Over 400 students have been excluded for drug and alcohol related issues across Hampshire in one year, new figures have revealed.

Department for Education figures show that schools across the county temporarily excluded students 412 times for drug and alcohol-related issues in 2018/19.

This data includes Southampton and Portsmouth.

This was a rise of 113 from the year before when there was 299 temporary exclusions for the same issues.

In Southampton, there were 46 exclusions for drug and alcohol issues in 2018/19, compared with 44 the year before.

These were among a record 12,180 drug and alcohol-related exclusions across England, an increase of 17% on 2017/18.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “Any decision by a headteacher to exclude a pupil is made on a case by case basis and will be a last resort having firstly exhausted other interventions.

“Hampshire schools have invested heavily in education initiatives about drugs, to support pupils and families, not only at school but also in their communities.”

Cllr Lorna Fielker, Acting Cabinet Member for Learning at Southampton City Council, said: “In the last few years, in partnership with schools, we have made significant progress in reducing exclusions.

“We’re continuing to do what we can to bring the number of school exclusions down further by working with headteachers and school staff.”

Despite this, the rise has now prompted the creation of a cross-party group of MPs, to reduce avoidable expulsions of vulnerable children.

The Centre for Social Justice, which will act as secretariat for the new parliamentary group, said the future looks “desperately bleak” for children forced out of school.

Southampton Itchen MP, Royston Smith branded the rise in exclusions for these kind of issues “concerning”.

He said: “I know that school leaders will do everything they can to support young people who are suffering from substance misuse but there are times where exclusion is necessary.”

Another MP, Alan Whitehead said: "Every exclusion is often a student that has lost the opportunity to get an education and stay within the system."

"I favour a low exclusions policy whilst recognising that under some circumstances there are no alternatives."

The total number of exclusions nationwide also increased between 2017-18 and 2018-19, from 419,000 to 446,000.