Social media rampage fears spread to Southend: Police issue dispersal order following Oxford Street chaos

10 August 2023, 18:16 | Updated: 11 August 2023, 17:26

A dispersal order has been issued for 48 hours in Southend-on-Sea.
A dispersal order has been issued for 48 hours in Southend-on-Sea. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

A dispersal order has been issued in the Essex seaside town amid fears a 'mass shoplifting' trend that hit Oxford street could spread.

Fears have emerged that the carnage which hit central London on Wednesday could spread to Southend-on-Sea after balaclava-clad social media users urged people to “get lit” on the beach.

Essex Police have set up a dispersal zone in the town until Saturday lunchtime to stop the social media trend spreading.

It will cover areas such as Southend High Street, Marine Parade, Pier Hill, Western Esplanade and Southend Central train station.

It comes after videos appeared on social media promoting plans for a "mass shoplifting" event at 3pm on Wednesday, resulting in multiple clashes between the police and youths on the central London street.

Scuffles broke out between young people and police officers in central London on Wednesday after the calls online.

A heavy police presence arrived at the shopping hotspot, with some officers mounted on horseback.

Nine people were arrested in Oxford Street and central London and 34 dispersal orders were issued.

Police have the power to give dispersal orders, which pose a temporary ban on people visiting an area, to anybody they suspect is behaving anti-socially.

Read more: 'Hunt them down and lock them up': Suella Braverman demands police crackdown after Oxford Street chaos

Read more: Carnage on Oxford Street as huge crowds clash with police amid social media call for ‘mass shoplifting’ rampage

A dispersal order has been put in place in Southend.
A dispersal order has been put in place in Southend. Picture: Alamy

Southend Chief Supt Waheed Khan warned said: “Anyone coming to Southend planning on causing trouble, please think twice, it won't be tolerated and you'll be arrested.”

It follows demands from Home Secretary Suella Braverman on Thursday to "hunt down and lock up" those behind the disorder on Oxford Street and central London.

Braverman tweeted on Thursday: "We cannot allow the kind of lawlessness seen in some American cities to come to the streets of the UK.

"The police have my full backing to do whatever necessary to ensure public order.

"Those responsible must be hunted down & locked up. I expect nothing less from the @metpoliceuk and have requested a full incident report."

A Met spokesman said on Wednesday evening: “As of 20.15hrs officers have arrested 34 people with dispersal orders and made nine arrests.

“Four people were arrested on suspicion of breaching the dispersal order, one person was arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal, one person arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, and one person was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.

“Earlier in the afternoon, officers arrested two people in Essex for conspiracy to commit robbery following online social media posts.”

Youths in Oxford Street rampage must be ‘hunted down’, says Braverman

Footage taken by LBC on Wednesday shows two young men being detained on Oxford Street, with police bringing one person to the ground.

Four more officers restrained another young man outside McDonald's on the street as a crowd gathered there.

Boots and Sports Direct briefly shut.

Sadiq Khan had urged people who saw the social media videos to stay away."Do not allow yourself to be sucked into an area that could be a high-crime area," the mayor of London said.

The videos told users to go to Oxford Street and wear balaclavas and gloves as part of the "dress code".

Targets included JD Sports as users were told to "rob" shops.

One advert said: "Don't come if you can't run."