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Gangs fight in Felixstowe

PUBLISHED: 04:58 11 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:37 03 March 2010

EXTRA police were drafted into Felixstowe after two gangs squared up to each other in a major disturbance which left revellers frightened for their safety.

EXTRA police were drafted into Felixstowe after two gangs squared up to each other in a major disturbance which left revellers frightened for their safety.

Rumours were flying that some of the young men involved had crowbars and knives, and it took police two hours to disperse all those involved and return the seafront and town centre areas to normal.

Back-up police were called in from Woodbridge and Ipswich, and the police helicopter was sent to the resort.

Today officers, still gathering intelligence on the night-time incident, appealed for witnesses to come forward to help them piece together what happened.

Four people were arrested during the disturbance, which happened at about 11pm on Saturday night and lasted until around 1am Sunday.

It started after an alleged assault on a young woman, which brought into conflict a group of young people from Ipswich and youths from Felixstowe.

Felixstowe police commander Insp Andy Bushell said: "The group from Ipswich were just visiting Felixstowe for a peaceful night out – there appears to have been nothing pre-planned about the incident.

"But after an alleged assault there was a confrontation between the group from Ipswich and local people.

"This led to youngsters gathering in numbers on the seafront and we called in extra officers to help disperse the groups, provide high visibility policing in the area and prevent the incident from escalating.

"It was very disappointing because the past few weekends have been relatively peaceful as far as the town's nightlife is concerned.

"For example, on Friday night we had around 1,000 people in the pubs and clubs on the seafront and in the 24-hour period recorded just three crimes."

Insp Bushell said the gangs involved did not have crowbars or knives. Four people aged between 18 and 25 had been arrested on suspicion of assault and public order offences.

"We have a team of officers looking into detail at what happened and evaluating the intelligence gathered and aim to take positive action against those involved. We would like to hear from any witnesses who might be able help us," he added.

The force helicopter – which has been making regular sweeps of the seafront as part of the NightSafe campaign to crackdown on drink and drugs related crime at the resort – was called in and provided information from the air to officers on the ground to identify spots where youngsters were gathering.

"This helped us to disperse them quickly before the groups became large and difficult to deal with," said Insp Bushell.

One man who saw the incident said: "It was very frightening. There were large numbers gathering outside Old Millars and all sorts of rumours flying around – it looked like there was going to be a massive fight.

"I didn't stop around too long because it had a very nasty feel to it."

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