A government task force is to probe into the level of breaches of regulations governing child labour.

The study, by the Better Regulation Task Force, will include children working on paper rounds and stacking shelves in stores.

It is designed to lead to recommendations on how better to protect children from exploitation, help employers to meet their obligations and “encourage proportionate enforcement” of the law. The probe is set to last nine months.

Simon Petch, who will head the inquiry, said: “There are too many examples where the law has not achieved its aims and children have been found to be working excessive hours, or in prohibited premises.”

The task force wants to hear evidence from children and parents, employers, teachers, charities and voluntary groups who work with children.

The Association of Convenience Stores and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents pledged to work closely with the task force and canvass members for views.