A 'small minority' of children are causing a nuisance in the community, police say, after a large group of children had to be cleared from a park last night.

Police had to disperse a crowd of up to 50 youths from Old Station Park in Horwich last night, with three, including a 15 and 14-year-old, having to be taken home due to drinking too much alcohol.

A strong warning was sent out to parents asking if they knew where their child was, saying they could be fined.

A neighbourhood office said last night after dispersing the crowd: "As well as spending time taking these kids home there’s quite a bit of paperwork involved for the officers. They will now submit a ‘Care Plan’ which can inform future decision making around these families but also then generates referrals to partner agencies such as children’s services.

"Let’s not forget no-one should be out and about unless they have a specific reason defined under the coronavirus exceptions. Your kids should be at home!"

Police have now sought to reassure that anti-social behaviour is only coming from a small minority of children and youths, as Operation Arden patrols crackdown on this type of behaviour in hotspots across the borough.

A neighbourhood police spokesman said this morning: "A thank you to the majority of young people out there.

"Last night we posted about some of the groups of kids that we came across throughout the evening. We realise that when we put these posts out that it may come across that we our demonising our young. This is not the case.

"We know that 99.9 per cent of our young people are at home with their loved ones and not out causing problems for their community. It's just a small minority of children that are out causing a nuisance, involved in anti-social behaviour and making the lives of local residents a misery.

"To put this is in a bit of perspective, we posted about 50 kids on a local park last night; this park is between large two high school which between them above 300 children in just one year group.

"We're also finding kids coming from much further afield so this really is just a small proportion of children who are engaged in this type of anti-social behaviour.

"So, to the vast majority of our young people and their carers we'd just like to say thanks."

Police also said they had been to a number of other places last night, including Doffcocker Lodge, Bolton Rugby Club, Monks Lane, and more places residents had said were becoming a concern.

Officers will also be re-attending the houses of the children they took home last night to ensure they are still at home and assess if its appropriate to issue their parents with a fixed penalty notice under coronavirus legislation.