A BOY has been arrested after armed police closed off part of Southend seafront following reports of a man with a machete.

Several police units, including officers with guns, raced to Station Road, Westcliff, before closing off part of Western Esplanade, Southend, at about 2.30pm yesterday.

Basildon Standard:

Traffic was blocked off while officers carried out a search of the area.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “A 14-year-old from Westcliff has been arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

“Officers recovered a large knife on Western Esplanade.

“The boy remains in police custody.”

The incident took place along the busy seafront and caused traffic to come to a standstill.

A spokesman for the force confirmed officers were originally sent to Station Road after reports a machete had been seen.

The Essex Police Firearms Support Unit tweeted: “Firearms officers from Essex Police FSU were sent to Southend for a firearms deployment by @EPControlRoom.

Supported by @EPDogSection, @EsssexOSG, a male has been arrested for being in possession of a large knife.”

The arrival of armed police shocked several of those enjoying the seafront.

One eyewitness said: “Armed police near cliff lift on Southend seafront. Southend road closed eastbound, traffic westbound is hellish.”

Councillor Daniel Nelson, portfolio holder for community safety at Southend Council,

He said: “It’s incredibly concerning but I’m confident the police have it under control.

"We’re in contact with the police to try and get more bobbies on the street, that’s what the community safety team want

“We need to stop these people getting these knives in the first place.

“I encourage anyone with knives to put them in the amnesty bin at their local police station.”

Anyone with information about the latest incident can call Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.