A FAMILY fair was beset by youths allegedly carrying knives on Thursday evening sparking police to enforce emergency stop and search powers.

Four teenagers were arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon following reports of youths with weapons and “a number of incidents of disorder” at Chalkwell Fair on the evening of Thursday, August 4.

An increased police presence will be in place at the council-run family fair which ends on August 13.

Councillor Martin Terry, responsible for public protection, said: “A number of people reportedly attended the fair who were carrying knives.

“It’s absolutely shocking to have trouble at the fair. I used to go myself as a kid, and can’t imagine why anyone would want to cause trouble there.”

Essex Police enforced a Section 60 order in response, granting officers the power to conduct a stop and search without prior reasonable grounds.

The force has heavily leaned on Section 60s and dispersal orders in recent months to address issues of violence and anti-social behaviour in Southend and specifically along the seafront.

Mr Terry says the tactics form a robust approach to cracking down on crime once it happens, but admitted the only deterrent would be increased police numbers.

“Thanks to what the council is calling Operation Union, we do have more police on the streets, however I think people appreciate we can’t have an officer on every corner of every street,” he said.

“Police are reacting to these problems swiftly, using these powers to break up violent or potentially violent incidents.”

Inspector Amber Chimes said: “The Section 60 was put in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the area this evening by minimising the opportunity for crime and antisocial behaviour to be committed. 

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy it and that’s why we’re using the tools available to us to tackle those coming to Chalkwell believing they can engage in crime and antisocial behaviour.” 

A 14-year-old boy from Southend, a 15-year-old boy from Southend, and two 16 year-old boys from Rayleigh and Leigh, have been arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.