A POLICE chief in Southend has rubbished claims his officers lost control of the streets on Friday and insists the force did everything it could to tackle the fighting.

Chief Insp Ian Hughes, District Commander for Southend, is also adamant his officers were prepared for trouble as large crowds gathered on the seafront as temperatres soared.

Speaking to the Echo, Mr Hughes said: “I do not think we could have done any more. 

"It was not chaos. It was the hottest day of the year and as a result we had an increase of people coming to Southend.

“The two stabbings were due to people coming from outside of Essex and were known to each other and they decided to come to our town to commit these crimes.

“We’ve had operation unit in place since about April and it’s seen a rise in the number of officers and we will continue to see this into the summer."

It comes as seafront traders have described a “horrible, toxic atmosphere” on Southend seafront as chaos unfolded and two men were stabbed.

Shocking scenes on the seafront on Friday during the heatwave saw police issue a dispersal order and increase powers to stop and search people for weapons.


Referring to the force's planning for an increase in visitors to Southend, Mr Hughes said: “We have weekly meetings and had put plans in place looking at the weather, intelligence we have about planned incidents, looking at previous incidents and events and working with traders.

“We recognised early it was going to be busy and we got in extra staff too.

"We responded to the weather and expectations for Friday.

“We also have to spread the resources that we have evenly. We had enough staff and officers do to that effectively.”

Mr Hughes argued his teams are never going to be able to wipe out criminal actiivity on the seafront.

Has echoed previous claims made by Essex Police that Friday's violence was caused by people coming from out of the area who were "hell-bent" on causing trouble.

Mr Hughes added there was lots of planning for the day itself and increase in visitor numbers due to the ongoing work with Operation Unit.

He added: “I am not aware of any calls from businesses about having extra officers on the ground and if we had wanted extra officers we would have taken them from outside south Essex.

“It was not predictable and we do not lose control, my officers worked hard in a challenging situation and worked hard to work with businesses.

“The 15 stop and searched were negative and found nothing.

"We are continuing the work with operation unit to plan and work ahead.”