Union Amicus has questioned how health visitors can take extra responsibilities to identify babies and young children at risk of future anti-social behaviour when they are facing job cuts and recruitment freezes.

Union Amicus has questioned how health visitors can take extra responsibilities to identify babies and young children at risk of future anti-social behaviour when they are facing job cuts and recruitment freezes.

Last week the prime minister told the BBC that teenage mothers should receive help from the state, even if they did not want it, to prevent them bringing up problem children.

As part of the vision, health visitors would be key to flagging up obvious problems.

Mr Blair said: 'If we're not prepared to predict and intervene far more early, then there are children that are going to grow up in completely dysfunctional families and the kids, a few years down the line, are going to be a menace to society and a threat to themselves.'

But Obi Amadi, lead professional officer for Amicus health sector, said he was not confident there would be enough health visitors to realise the prime minister's vision: 'While we welcome Tony Blair's belated interest in this area, we want to know where the extra health visitors - at their lowest number for 12 years - are coming from.'

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said the government would be 'reassessing available services and who they are available to'.