Nine people were arrested and seven fines were handed out following a huge gathering described as a clear and blatant breach of Covid-19 rules.

Police say their attempts to engage with people at the gathering and encourage them to do the right thing were unsuccessful.

READ MORE: How the drama unfolded in Basildon

As a result, officers had to take enforcement action and, so far, 12 people have been arrested and seven fines have been issued.

No-one was seriously injured although some officers have reported being assaulted.

Police have dispersed the gathering but will maintain a visible presence in the area over the next 24 hours to reassure the public.

READ MORE: Police descend on street to arrest rule breakers

Supt Bonnie Moore said: “This was a clear and blatant breach of the Government’s Covid-19 regulations and those who took part have risked their health and those of their loved ones through he spread of the virus.

“Our approach to the Government’s regulations has always been to try to engage with people, explain the regulations, and encourage them to do the right thing.

“Sadly, today that was not successful and we had to take enforcement action.

“A number of our officers involved today also reported being injured but, thankfully, their injuries are relatively minor.

“I know these are challenging times for everyone but we all have a responsibility to help keep each other safe.

“Having to deal with clear and blatant breaches of the regulations means having to take our officers away from dealing with other incidents and affects our ability to respond to other forms of crime.

“Most people across Essex are doing that and I thank you for it. It means we can spend more time doing what we do best – helping people, keeping people safe, and catching criminals.”

A dispersal order remains in place until 12.30am tomorrow for the town centre covering an area within the boundaries of Great Oaks and Southernhay as well as the Craylands testing facility at the junction with Churchill Avenue, and Basildon railway station.

Southend Standard: The dispersal zone in placeThe dispersal zone in place