EIGHT out of 11 pubs tested during a police operation in Rossendale sold alcohol to underage youngsters.

Officers organised the test purchases as part of a crackdown on underage drinking prior to the world cup starting next month.

A teenager was sent into bars in Rawtenstall, Haslingden and Helmshore to see if they would be challenged for id or served.

The Rams Head, Madison Park Wine Bar, Old House at Home and the Crown in Rawtenstall along with the Commercial Hotel, Black Bull and the Roebuck Inn in Haslingden as well as the Station Hotel in Helmshore all failed the exercise.

The Queens Arms Hotel, the White Lion and the Rhythm Station in Rawtenstall all followed the correct procedure and refused to serve the teenager alcohol.

Rossendale's new Chief Inspector Ian Sewart said: “We want the landlords and licensees to know that if they carry out their business lawfully, we will support them.

“However, if they are caught selling alcohol to underage drinkers, we will come down on them like a tonne of bricks.

“Residents in Rossendale are concerned about underage drinking and anti social behaviour and it is a priority for us to tackle those issues now.”

The names of the pubs which failed have now been passed on to Rossendale Borough Council.

Council licensing and planning enforcement manager, Tracy Brzozowski, said: “Alcohol abuse by under 18s can be a major cause of anti-social behaviour in our communities, causing distress to older residents and potentially fuelling criminal activity.

“Any action taken by the Licensing Panel on any premises referred for a review of their licence will reflect the seriousness of what they have done and the need to protect children from harm.”