A “DISTURBANCE” in a block of flats sparked an 18-hour stand off with police.

Officers were initially called to the block of flats, in Whittingham Avenue, Southend at about 7.30pm on Thursday night.

Officers were forced to remain at the scene throughout the night, and until midday as they attempted “to engage with the occupants”.

A 23-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of failing to appear at court in connection with drug offences.

Harry Lee, of Shoebury Road, Great Wakering has not been charged with any offences in relation to the stand off but is due to appear in court today on suspicion of drug offences.

Residents and nearby neighbours originally raised concerns there was a hostage situation within the flat, but police have stated that is categorically not the case.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It happens all the time, we always have police around.

“I keep hearing banging and shouting here and there.

“It’s just embarrassing if you have visitors or anything and I have a young child, it’s not very nice for him to hear and see police.

“I’ve lost count the amount of times.

Police, paramedics, ambulances and the fire service were all spotted at the scene by residents.

Police were forced to stay on the scene for roughly 18 hours as they attempted to gain control of the situation.

Shocked residents admitted it is not unusual for police to be in the area, but it is very rare to see such a long stand-off.

One eye-witness told the Echo: “I spotted police late on Thursday night.

“Police were still here when I went to work early this morning, and I got home maybe an hour ago and there is still this huge emergency services presence, which is quite bizarre.

“There is all kinds of emergency services here, police, ambulances, paramedics, so you know it is serious.

“I spoke to a few of my neighbours and people hanging around and apparently police are trying to talk to a man and a woman inside.

“Everyone is trying to work out what is going on, there are people hanging out windows to look at police.”

A spokesman for the force has now told the Echo: “A man has been arrested following a disturbance at an address on Whittingham Avenue in Southend.

“Officers have been attempting to engage with the occupants of the property after concerns were raised around 7.30pm Thursday.

“A 23-year-old man from Southend has been arrested for failing to appear at court in connection with drug offences.”

Lee will appear at the court today.

An investigation into the events at a flat on Thursday night and Friday is continuing.

No arrests have been made.