POLICE are tonight dealing with "several" targeted assaults with reports of weapons being seen during linked disturbances across the town. 

The incidents have triggered a huge dispersal zone across Southend with additional stop-and-search powers to keep people safe.

Police say it was reported that from 7pm this evening (Monday) there were several linked disturbances throughout the town.

Writing on Essex Police's Facebook page, one woman said: "Just got home from there tonight with my two young kids who where terrified by someone waving a large knife around."

Officers say they have been given extra powers this evening "to keep you safe".

Police say there were several linked disturbances throughout the town.

Following several targeted assaults and reports of weapons being seen, officers have been authorised to use stop and search powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

This is an extension of the stop and search powers officers already have been differs because it means they do not need to have reasonable grounds to carry a stop and search out.

Due to this, police have an obligation to make the public aware when one is in place, the area it covers, and how long it will be in place for.

A dispersal order is in place for the same area, which gives officers the power to move people away from the area.

Echo: The area covered by the dispersal zone and stop-and-search powers in Southend tonightThe area covered by the dispersal zone and stop-and-search powers in Southend tonight

They can be arrested if they don't comply, or return to that area within a certain time period.

Both orders came into place from 8.15pm this evening and will run until 4am tomorrow, Tuesday 20 July.

They cover Marine Parade and Western Esplanade to the south, the entirety of Southchurch Park to the east, Queensway to the north, and Hamlet Court Road and part of Station Road to the west.

The order also incorporates Chalkwell, Southend Central, Southend Victoria and Southend East Railway Stations, and we are working with the British Transport Police for support.

Inspector Andrew Jopson, of Southend police, said: "I know that some of this evening's incidents will have caused concern amongst the community, but we are working hard to ensure that there is no risk to the wider public.

"We won't tolerate criminal or anti-social behaviour in Southend, and these orders will give my officers extra powers throughout the night to prevent any more disturbances from taking place.

"We're here to keep you safe, so don't be alarmed if you see a large police presence this evening.

"I'd like to thank the locals for their patience and their understanding and, if you have any information that you think could help us, please call 101 or dial 999 in an emergency."