A CRACKDOWN on underage drinking and vandalism in Willaston has been hailed a success.
Police action was launched after drunken youngsters pushed over gravestones and caused criminal damage and public disorder in the village.
And the multi-agency campaign on bad behaviour was so big it led some of the youths to complain 'there are too many cops in Willaston!'
Sgt Emma Parry, based at Neston, told Ellesmere Port & Neston Police Forum: 'There were anti-social problems in Willaston. We worked with borough councillor Myles Hogg to identify the issues.
'We had a public meeting, attended by 150 people, and everyone wanted the problem in the village to be sorted.
'We found people were coming into the village from Merseyside, and so I wanted to reassure the public that we'd nip this in the bud.
'Plain-clothes and uniformed officers went out on patrol and spoke to the youths, and the borough council's housing team worked with parents who were their tenants.
'We talked to youths and instructed them that if they're being a problem they could be looking at Acceptable Behaviour Contracts.'
Officers conducted test purchases of alcohol at premises.
'There was one 'success' in that they provided it to a youth,' said Sgt Parry.
But when she explained the offending premises were then offered advice, an elderly man told her: 'This softly, softly approach won't work. If they sold alcohol to under-age people, they should be done.'
Sgt Parry replied: 'They were prosecuted by Trading Standards. But, as a team, we wanted to work with them too so this wouldn't happen again.'
She added: 'We also identified a man who was buying alcohol himself and illegally passing it on to youths. He was warned, and this problem has now dried up.'
Youth services spoke to the village youths, only to be told 'there's nothing to do here', so they will work with the police to provide something.
Police surgeries will be reintroduced so residents with worries or complaints can speak to officers.
Sgt Parry said: 'It's a continual process and we need the public's help, as we do in all communities.'
Cllr Hogg (Con, Willaston & Thornton) said: 'Youths were doing things like pushing over gravestones. They were coming in from Eastham and other places.
'At one public meeting, youths attended and complained about the number of police in Willaston now!
'I thank Sgt Parry and all the officers and partner agencies for their continued help and support.'