POLICE have been given extra time to use additional stop and search powers after knife-wielding yobs started fighting.

Terrified shoppers sought shelter in a McDonald’s restaurant following the incident in Pier Avenue, Clacton, on Wednesday at about 1.30pm

One shopper told the Gazette that she saw what looked like a machete after a fight broke out between teens.

After being informed by the police about a “significant incident”, staff at Clacton County High School sent a text to concerned parents.

Pupils were allowed to “switch on their phones” earlier than usual in order to arrange an alternative location from which to be picked up, including the neighbouring leisure centre.

Following the incident, police were given extra powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, allowing them to carry out extra stop and searches.

The order has now been extended until 4pm on Friday.

A spokesman said: "We will be carrying out extra patrols and using additional stop and search powers in a number of roads in Clacton following a disturbance on Wednesday.

"This allows uniformed officers to search people for dangerous objects and weapons without the need to have a reasonable suspicion.

"The powers are being exercised by Essex Police to protect the community and prevent incidents of crime and disorder.

"A Section 60 power differs from the regular stop and search powers as officers do not need to have reasonable grounds to stop and search someone.

"Due to this we have an obligation to make the public aware that a Section 60 Authority has been authorised, the area it covers, and the time period it will be in place for."

The spokesman said the  order relates to the disturbance in Pier Avenue.

He added: "It was reported to involve two people who were reported to have knives.

"Officers attended the scene and enquiries are ongoing."

The Section 60 order covers: Vista Road junction with Marine Parade East down to Marine Parade West junction with Tower Road, up to Beatrice Road, across Vicarage Gardens onto Park Road, left onto Anchor Road, right onto Alton Park Road, left onto Ford Road. From Ford Road, left onto St Osyth Road, straight over junction with Cloes Lane up to junction with Douglas Road. Left onto Douglas Road up to Pathfields Road, up to St John’s Road. From St John’s Road over the roundabout onto St John’s Road, and left onto Old Road. From Old Road left down Thornbury Road onto Oxford Road. From Oxford Road incorporating over the railway bridge onto the area of Vista Road. From Vista Road straight down to the junction with Marine Parade East.

If you saw anything, have any CCTV or dash cam footage, any other information about the earlier disturbance, call Essex Police on 101 quoting incident 528 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111