FAMILIES want CCTV after an armed man was spotted patrolling the streets - on multiple occasions.

Witnesses reported the man walking up and down Ambleside Drive, Southend, with a machete, but police were unable to find the weapon when they arrived.

A suspect was arrested, and subsequently de-arrested, as a result, but campaigners say the incident, which happened on Sunday evening, proves CCTV is needed.

Rob McAvoy, who lives nearby and runs Project Southchurch, said CCTV would have saved police officers valuable time and ensure similar incidents do not happen in future.

He added: “A gentleman was arrested between Southend East train station and the adult’s college on suspicion of carrying a knife. This has been a problem for a while.

"I can’t say whether it was the same man but there was a similar incident the previous week where there was a disturbance and a man was spotted with a knife.

“This incident could have been picked up by CCTV and dealt with by the police very quickly.

“A lot of officers spent a considerable length of time looking for the weapon. Residents were letting them into their gardens so they could try and trace it.

“If CCTV had been in place, they could have been given an idea about where it had been dumped. CCTV along that road is urgently needed as it would be better to nip this kind of behaviour in the bud.”

Mr McAvoy launched Project Southchurch in a bid to boost community safety and campaign against low-level antisocial behaviour.

He added: “It’s no criticism of the police. I just feel that CCTV could have supported them in that situation and freed them up to move onto other things quicker.”

Martin Terry, councillor for community safety, said: “The council have one of the most extensive CCTV networks in the region and was an early adopter of CCTV.

“We are now going through a detailed procurement exercise to modernise our whole network with improved cameras which will improve the network further. Ambleside Drive is to be added as a location and will get a new CCTV camera as part of the improvements.”