Essex Police put in place additional powers to search members of the public in Colchester town centre last night following a series of three stabbings reported in just over 10 minutes and an assault.
The use of section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was granted by Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Julia Wortley following an application by Chief Inspector Simon Anslow.
The Act provides police officers with the power to search people for dangerous objects and weapons without the need to have a reasonable suspicion.
It was in force from 6.40pm until 9.50pm and covered the area in the attached map.
Chief Inspector Anslow said: “The decision to put in place a Section 60 power is never taken lightly but we experienced a level of disorder in Colchester tonight that meant we had to take this option to ensure the safety of everyone in the town.
“This was very much a temporary measure while we carried out initial investigations into the stabbings to establish if they were all linked and the reasons behind them.
“We have already arrested three people for offences including possession of cannabis, violent disorder and breach of bail conditions.
“They all live outside of Essex and they will be questioned shortly once they have been treated for their injuries, which all include puncture wounds which are not life-threatening or likely life-changing.
“This is a rare situation in any town and we are using the full range of legal tools at our disposal to keep the overwhelming majority of people, who are just out for a good time, safe while making sure those intent on causing trouble will be swiftly picked up and dealt with.
“We only deployed this robust policing tactic for as long as it was necessary to ensure that order had been fully restored, suspects had been arrested and anyone intent on causing trouble had dispersed.
“There was a significant police presence in the town to manage the section 60 power and maintain order and we would advise members of the public intending to visit Colchester to carry on as normal.
“We will be pursuing a vigorous investigation to put all those we can find who are responsible for this detestable behaviour before the courts.”
The incidents in Colchester were:
6.17pm report of four men attacking another man in a car park off St Botolph’s Street. Four assailants.
6.22pm an 18-year-old man from London found at St Johns Green with suspected stab wounds to his shoulder, believed to have been attacked near Southway. He was taken to hospital for treatment and subsequently arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis.
6.27pm a 21-year-old man from Barking found on North Hill with stab wound to his leg, believed to have been attacked in High Street. He was taken to hospital for treatment and subsequently arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.
6.31pm a 17-year-old man from London found near the Jumbo car park at Balkerne Gardens with four suspected stab wounds to his arm. He was taken to hospital for treatment and subsequently arrested on suspicion of violent disorder, possession of cannabis and breach of bail conditions.