POLICE who swooped in on an “illegal rave” in Southend instead found queues of pensioners lining up to get their Covid jab.

Three police cars descended on the Essex Freemasons’ Saxon Hall in Aviation Way, Southend on Friday, after being tipped off about a ‘rave’.

But instead of finding strobe lights, glow sticks and groups of teenagers - officers were confronted with large numbers of people in their 80s with walking sticks queuing outside the building for their vaccine.

Essex Police have confirmed they attended reports of "congestion at the vaccination centre" and that officers visited the site to help with traffic management. 

But Dennis Baum, chairman of Saxon Hall revealed when officers attended they told him they expected to find a "rave" taking place. 

He said: “It was really funny when the police arrived as they had been notified that there was a “rave” taking place at Saxon Hall - only to find 80 and 90 year-olds on wheelchairs, zimmer frames and walking sticks, patiently queueing for their vaccinations.

“Grumpy old men and grumpy old women were in abundance. Nevertheless, as a balancing act many more very appreciative people couldn’t have been more grateful to receive the vaccine and to Saxon Hall and the Freemasons for facilitating it.”

The police quickly realised the mistake and offered assistance with traffic problems.

Mr Baum added: “The police left but then came back in the afternoon to help. The first patient arrived at 7.10am for an 8.30am appointment.

Echo: Saxon Hall vaccine centre - over 80s soon formed a queue to get their jabsSaxon Hall vaccine centre - over 80s soon formed a queue to get their jabs

“The Astra-Zeneca vaccine was expected, but the Pfizer one arrived but not until 9.10am and then not in enough quantity - so the congestion commenced, and then got worse when they ran out of vaccine and there was an hour’s delay in getting more.

“It was absolute chaos and very cold. The car park became choc-a-bloc with 80 year-old-plus drivers.”

The Queensway surgery in Southend organised the vaccination centre on behalf of eight GP surgeries in the borough.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "As the good public of Essex know, where we receive reports of people clearly and flagrantly breaking the rules we will respond, but we're also available to help the community when needed. 

"Upon receiving reports of congestion at the vaccination centre, a unit responded to offer help with traffic management, and returned later that day to check that everything was progressing smoothly for those getting their jabs.

"No-one wants to see all of our communities getting the jab and being protected more than us at Essex Police, particularly our elderly and vulnerable communities and we will do all we can to support that."

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