JD Wetherspoon, the pub retailer, has this morning said that a large number of parents are helping their underage children to gain access into pubs – and to alcohol. Unveiling interim results, the company said: “A large number of parents themselves used pubs and clubs or drank at parties or other social occasions when they were under 18 and now actively collaborate in enabling their 16 and 17 year old children to do so themselves.” The company said that the government’s focus on underage drinkers was not actually likely to address the concerns over anti-social behaviour, as underage drinkers were not actually the biggest problem. “Most anti-social behaviour results from older age groups,” it said. Wetherspoon said the current underage clampdown did not address the underlying cultural issues that were central to a small section of people who mis-behave when drinking. It said: “This is demonstrated by examples of poor behaviour by a number of celebrities during the recent televised Brit Awards and by habitual drunken celebrities in the context of sporting events and other occasions, which then receive huge press coverage. “This sort of behaviour is not a new phenomenon, and is frequently replicated by the general public during birthday parties, stag and hen parties and so on. Although it is often perceived that the pubs benefit from these sort of occasions, it is our experience that they are often bad for the pub trade, since they are difficult for pub staff to deal with and can be intimidating for the majority of customers.” The group said the behaviour of its customers was generally “extremely good”. It aimed to attract a broad range of customers and age groups. It also said the availability of food and coffee during longer hours had also helped. On the general issue of social concerns about alcohol, the company concluded: “The correct approach for the authorities, in our opinion, as in the case of the generally successful campaigns over drink driving, is to concentrate on the message that pubs and drinking are legitimate activities, but they bring an obligation to behave responsibility. “The current effort to prevent under 18 year olds drinking is likely to fail, since it is difficult to enforce, especially since almost all parents permit these age groups to drink.”