ARRESTS of drunken adults looking after children have tripled in one Scottish police force area in the past year.
Eighteen people were charged for being drunk while in charge of children between last April and March this year by Lothian and Borders Police.
Only six were charged over the same period in the previous twelve months.
It is an offence for adults to be drunk in public while caring for a child under the age of ten.
But now that the numbers have soared in the Lothian and Borders area, child welfare charities are calling for the law to include the homes of children as well as public areas.
Alison Todd, director of children and family services for child welfare charity Children 1st, said: “The rise in the number of parents being charged with being drunk in charge of a child is cause for concern.
“What is even more worrying is that his number only applies to parents who have been found to be drunk with their child in a public place, but we know that there will be many more cases behind closed doors.
“This is why Children 1st has been campaigning for legislation to be updated so that children are better protected in their own homes.”
An officer can arrest any adult who is “clearly” unable to care for a child due to excess drinking.
A Lothian and Borders spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police is committed to ensuring the safety and security of children in our communities.
“When officers are made aware of an incident where an adult is drunk and incapable of caring for a child in their care, then we take immediate action to ensure that the appropriate care arrangements are in place for the child, and we work closely with social work departments as part of that process.”
A council spokeswoman said: “When an adult is drunk and incapable of looking after a child in their care our first priority is to act to make sure the child is safe and if necessary identify a suitable carer.
“We would continue to monitor the situation and assess what further intervention with the family is required.”
In April, a babysitter appeared in court after being caught drunk while looking after a 13-month-old boy.
Darren Gillespie, 31, was minding the toddler in January despite drinking heavily that day.
And in February, a former escort Nicola Brims, was given community service for neglecting a toddler.
She had been looking after the child, while getting drunk in his company.
She then left him behind, surrounded by razor blades, drugs and alcohol in March 2011.