POLICE were today launching a half-term blitz on under-age drinking on the streets of Southampton.

Officers warned boozy youngsters they would have nowhere to hide after they were given powers to confiscate alcohol from under-18s.

The crackdown is a bid to stop criminal damage and antisocial behaviour spiralling out of control over the holiday period.

Teams will swoop on five areas of the city - which they are keeping secret - to stamp out alcohol-fuelled crime and to root out people who illegally supply youths with drink.

The new drive is a boost to the Daily Echo's Keep Kids Sober campaign which was launched by Saints striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, after it was revealed that children as young as 11 were drinking on the streets of Southampton.

Official figures showed that the number of children and teenagers treated in Hampshire hospitals for alcohol-related illnesses had more than doubled in the past decade.

The campaign is backed by health chiefs at Southampton City Primary Care Trust and South Central Ambulance Service, Hampshire Police and the youth projects No Limits and Streetwise.

Confiscation Inspector Alistair Nichols, Hampshire Police's force alcohol harm reduction lead, said: "Drunken teenagers are more likely to cause criminal damage and antisocial behaviour so police officers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be confiscating alcohol from under-18s before the situation gets out of hand."

The crackdown - part of a Home Office initiative - is also being rolled out across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Police will use the powers contained within the Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997 and the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.

It is a crime for adults to buy alcohol for under-18s. They could receive an £80 fixed penalty notice or end up in court and face a fine of £5,000.

Professor John Newton, regional director of public health for NHS South Central, said: "Under-age drinking is a real concern for the NHS.

"The damage that drinking causes at such a young age is a tragedy and can easily be under estimated by the young people concerned.

"What is also concerning is that more and more children aged 16 and under are drinking and being admitted to hospital as a result."