POLICE have launched emergency stop and search powers in a large area of eastern Southampton over fears of youth violence.

Officers believe two groups of young people, armed with weapons, were looking to target each other last night.

Police have put in stop and search powers in place in a bid to prevent the violence.

The powers, which are in place in areas including Woolston, Sholing and Thornhill, allow police to stop and search anyone in a defined area where they think violence may occur.

They are in place until 8am this morning.

In a post on Twitter, Hampshire Constabulary said: "This emergency power has been implemented because we believe an incident of serious violence may occur in the area after it was reported that two groups of young people may be targeting one another with weapons this evening (January 21).

"Section 60 is an emergency tactic. We do not suggest that it is a long term solution to violent disorder or weapon-related crime, however we have received concerns raised by the community recently and this is our response.

"We know that some will think this inhibits our ability to catch those carrying weapons, however it is important communities are informed we are taking action. It is also helps prevent other incidents of serious violence occurring and so helps us prevent crime."