A CRACKDOWN on anti-social behaviour will focus on adults who buy alcohol for underage drinkers.

Springwatch, now in its seventh year, will target so called 'proxy sales', in which booze is purchased on behalf of children.

In a statement, St Helens Council reinforced that any person buying alcohol for a person under 18 is committing an offence which can lead to a criminal conviction or an unlimited fine from the courts.

Underage alcohol has come under the spotlight in the town recently with police setting up a dispersal zone on the weekend of March 31 to April 2 in areas of the town centre following cases of groups of young people congregating consuming alcohol and causing disorder and criminal damage.

The annual Springwatch operation sees community safety partners join forces to target issues such as off-road vehicle nuisance, anti-social fires and neighbourhood nuisance, which often increases when the clocks go forward in spring.

Last year saw eight off-road bikes seized, and a Section 59 Warning issued for reckless driving. As the Star has already reported, this year has seen police seized two off-road motorbikes from Billinge Hill at the start of this month.

Speaking at the launch of this year's Springwatch outside St Helens town hall, cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Lisa Preston said: "Tackling underage sales is vital if we are to stop young people accessing alcohol.

"Any adult who buys alcohol on behalf of a child is committing a criminal offence. Not only could it cause serious physical and psychological harm to those who consume it, the local community also suffers from alcohol related anti-social behaviour.

"Off-licences also have a duty to ensure they are doing all they can to prevent underage sales and fulfil their duties as a responsible retailer.

"If you see an adult buying alcohol and then passing it to someone who looks under 18, you can report it anonymously to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06."

Police Inspector Matt Drennan added: “Springwatch brings together partners with a collective focus on the issues that affect our communities.

"I would appeal to anyone with information on any form of anti-social behaviour taking place in their area, whether it is through the use of illegal scrambler bikes or underage drinking, to get in touch with us and I can assure them that we will take action.”

To report any form of anti-social behaviour, please call 101, or dial 999 in the event of an emergency or if there is a crime in progress.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, anonymously at any time on 0800 555 111.

For more see safersthelens.org.uk.