POLICE say they are worried about a rise in substance abuse among youths near a shopping centre in Runcorn.

Officers say that young people have been ‘playing Russian roulette with their lives’ over the past few days inhaling butane gas from balloons.

Sightings of the incidents, which police say is known as ‘huffing’, have been reported around the Runcorn Shopping City area.

Halton Lea Police is urging parents to warn children about the danger this poses.

Posting on social media, officers said: “A worrying rise in substance abuse has been witnessed over the last few days around the Shopping City.

“Youths have been filling balloons with butane gas and inhaling it, generally known as huffing.

“The effects are catastrophic. Youths are playing Russian roulette with their lives.

“Please warn you children about this.”