Children who break the law by attempting to buy alcohol only have a one in 282,000 chance of being punished, it has been claimed.
The odds were based on estimates that 2 million children attempt to buy alcohol each month compared with a tiny number facing penalties.
Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, said that this reflected a “staggering complacency” from the Government in this area.
“The Government’s basic failure to enforce the law sends totally the wrong message”, he said.
The criticism comes a week after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced a new drive to curb underage drinking.
A spokesman for the Home Office told The Daily Telegraph it would “listen to police and tighten the law if required to make it an offence for children to possess alcohol in public”.