A RING of steel was set up around a Hampshire town to prevent more than 100 warring youths rampaging through the streets causing “mayhem” – organised through Internet sites and mobile phones.

Around 120 youths, in three separate gangs from Millbrook, descended on Totton, sparking a major police operation to prevent a mass brawl kicking off.

Officers from the force Support Unit, dog units and Safer Neigh-bourhood Teams were drafted in to secure the Totton border and stop the gangs passing through.

The high police presence of around 30 officers sparked concern among residents who went on to social networking sites to try to find out what was going on.

The alarm was first raised on Wednesday at around 4pm, when police monitoring of social networking sites flagged up a potential “fight” between rival youths from Totton and Millbrook.

Working on that intelligence, officers were able to set up a ring of steel and intercepted them as they reached the Redbridge end of the M271 at around 6.45pm.

Knowing police were on their tails, the location of the planned fight kept moving – locations including the Asda superstore and the Elephant and Castle pub – but officers kept on top by constantly monitoring messages.

Most of those in the gangs were successfully turned away without any trouble, but it is believed that a few did manage to sneak through to cause some “minor scuffles” in the centre of Totton.

A few teenagers were stopped within Totton but no arrests were made and no cautions handed out.

A police spokesman said: “This was a show of strength by our officers and effectively they put up a ring of steel. The message to these youths is that police will adopt a zero tolerance approach and will deal with anyone robustly who is trying to breach the peace.”