Essex Police will use all their powers and a multi-pronged approach to ensure there are no more violent disturbances at the heart of the town centre.

That’s the message from Southend’s district commander Neil Pudney after an incident involving knife-wielding gangs sparked fears that Southend was no longer safe for residents or visitors.

A swift and robust police response to the incident, on Tuesday evening, led to five people being arrested after a knife fight broke out in the High Street in front of shocked onlookers.

They have all now been released on bail under the condition they must not enter Southend.

Now the police have outlined their plan to ensure Southend enjoys a safe bank holiday.

Ch Insp Pudney said: “First and foremost, Southend continues to be a safe place to live and visit. The violent disorder on Tuesday is an extremely rare occurrence and it appears to have been targeted among a group of people known to each other and there is no identified wider threat to the public.

“There is nothing to suggest any organised criminality at this stage, nevertheless investigators will maintain an open mind.

“I hope the level of expertise that we have allocated to investigate this incident demonstrates and reassures the public how seriously we have taken this.”

Essex Police’s Serious Crime Directorate are leading the investigation so there is now a dedicated team of detectives investigating the incident.

The police have said they will be increased level of patrols over the bank holiday weekend and a dispersal order will be in place, giving officers additional powers to move any groups congregating in the town centre.

Ch Insp Pudney added: “There will be an increased level of police resources working over the bank holiday to provide high visibility and public reassurance.

“Those officers will be working closely with retail leaders, CCTV operators, street rangers, key partners and community leaders to ensure a coordinated and focused approach continues to be taken to deal with any reported violent crime.”

Ann Holland, Southend’s councillor for culture, tourism and economy, said the council are not taking the incident lightly and will be working with police to make the High Street an appealing place.

She said: “We do take this seriously. It’s never good when an incident like this happens and they do happen all over the country.

“We’re working very closely with the police and BID and it’s one of the things that we have been looking at in general. We do want to see a difference within a year but things like this will occasionally happen, but it’s important that we support our high street.”

More than 20 witness statements have been obtained and police are still keen to hear from anyone with information.

Ch Insp Pudney added: “Southend is a safe place and has been awarded the Purple Flag for a safe night time economy. That is something we should all be incredibly proud of.

“This violent disorder will, I hope, prove to be an isolated incident but my team will not rest on their laurels and will continue to focus their efforts in tackling any knife or violent crime, working closely with partners.”