PATROLS are being stepped up around Palmer's College following reports of armed youths gathering outside.

Police were called to Chadwell Road at 2.15pm on Tuesday after receiving calls that a group of youngsters, some reported to have weapons, were standing outside the college.

The group had gone by the time police arrived and there was no trace of them despite police carrying out a wide search of the area.

But it was indicated to police that the youths might have been carrying baseball bats.

Speculation was rife on Twitter, with one witness reporting there had been a fight.

Palmer's College is the primary further education college in Thurrock, with almost 2000 students enrolled there.

One woman, who lives in the Chadwell Road area, told the Gazette: “This is gang fights which have been escalating at the college. It’s been going on for a while now and everyone knows about it.”

A police spokesman said: “Police were called to Chadwell Road at 2.15pm following reports of a group of youths, some apparently with weapons. They were gathered outside the college.

“The group left before police arrived and officers conducted a wide-area search but there was no trace of the youths.

“Police are appealing to anyone with information to contact officers at Grays police station.”