Thousands of children in Sussex could be secretly suffering neglect at the hands of their parents.

Up to 27,000 youngsters could be at risk but are going unnoticed by official statistics, a study by children's charity Action for Children has revealed.

Official figures from the Department for Children, Schools and Families show that 85 children in Brighton and Hove are subject to child protection plans because they have suffered neglect.

But Action for Children said the true figure of those in danger could be more than 50 times higher.

The charity fears as many as 4,800 children in the city could be suffering from neglect - along with more than 22,000 youngsters across the rest of the county.

It believes one in ten of Sussex's 277,890 children under the age of 16 could be inadequately cared for.

The charity said neglect is a particular problem in Brighton and Hove due to the number of people with drug and alcohol problems.

It said poverty was another major factor leading to neglect in parts of Sussex.