Lighter nights are set to trigger a major clampdown on anti-social behaviour throughout the borough.

As the days lengthen, St.Helens Council, Merseyside Police and local agencies forming the St.Helens Community Safety Partnership will target nuisance behaviour throughout April with the 'SpringWatch' campaign.

Priority will be given to reports of anti-social behaviour, off-road vehicle nuisance and nuisance fires - which usually increase at this time of year.

Merseyside Police will focus on hot-spot areas - deploying bike patrols to tackle off-road vehicle nuisance. Distinctive signs in open areas will also warn potential nuisance riders.

Merseyside Police Chief Inspector Keith McLachlan commented:  "We would like to remind everyone that in the eyes of the law, these vehicles are classed as motorcycles and require the rider to have all the usual driving documents. The only legitimate place to use these vehicles without the necessary documents is on private land. We would like to stress that council or public land is not private.

"With the warmer weather, these bikers take to our parks and public spaces and can cause misery for local residents - these bikes are loud, very dangerous and above all, illegal. Merseyside Police wants to send a clear message to anyone using an off-road bike in this way that we will do all that we can to seize them, ensuring our parks are safer for everyone."

The risks created by setting fire to wheelie bins or open grassland will also be graphically underlined with hard-hitting talks by police and fire officers at more than 60 local schools. The message will be reinforced with performances by professional theatre company Altru Drama Group - funded by Regenda Housing and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

To divert young people away from potentially harmful anti-social behaviour Helena Partnerships and other agencies have organised free activities  - involving skate parks, mobile outdoor games and multi-sports cage sessions.

There will also be a host of themed arts and crafts sessions at local libraries - with popular themes such as Doctor Who, Princesses and Pirates and Easter.

Councillor Susan Murphy Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, Safer Communities and Youth said: " Last year we launched the SpringWatch Campaign, which contributed to some significant reductions - with our lowest level of anti-social behaviour for four years."

For more information about activities available to young people throughout April contact St. Helens Council Youth Services (www.sthelens.gov.uk/yaz) on 01744 675575.