CHILDREN in Bury as young as 10 have been referred to special drug and alcohol treatment services, new figures show.

Statistics gained under the Freedom Of Information act show primary pupils in Bury are some of the youngest in the country to have been referred to alcohol and drugs specialists by education and children’s services.

However, council chiefs said the number of children in the borough being referred is on the decrease.

A referral can mean the child is vulnerable to drug and alcohol misuse through exposure from a parent or relative, or could have starting abusing themselves.

In Bolton, the age of children receiving help was as young as 11.

A Bury Council spokesman said: “The number of young people aged under 18 in treatment for substance misuse is decreasing each year in Bury.

"Our focus is on preventative work with young people and their families. Where substance misuse has been identified we take a holistic, multi-agency approach which provide for a range of support services to vulnerable young people.

“We have a well-established substance misuse provider working with partners such as the Youth Service and schools, with the emphasis on substance misuse education so that young people are provided with the information and support they need, individually and in their family setting.

“Where a young person may be vulnerable to substance misuse, there are appropriate specialist services to which that young person would be referred and support provided by appropriate agencies.”

Nationally, 366 children aged 12 or under were referred for treatment in 2012/13 in England, according to the most recent figures from Public Health England, compared with 433 in 2011/12.

More than half of under-13s, 59 per cent, received treatment for cannabis misuse, while one-third were treated for alcohol misuse. A small number abused solvents.

In South Ayrshire, it was reported children as young as four had been referred by education and children's services to alcohol and drug specialists.