TWO knives and an axe were seized during a police stop and search operation in Southampton in which four people were arrested.

Officers used Section 60 powers in Sholing, Thornhill and Weston amid fears that gangs armed with weapons might attack each other.

Police have confirmed that 42 people were stopped, resulting in four arrests, between noon yesterday and 7am today.

A police spokesman said: "During that time, officers were out patrolling the area in order to prevent serious violence involving weapons from occurring.

"Section 60 is an emergency power and we do not suggest it is a long term solution to violent disorder or weapon-related crime.

"However, we have used the power this week as we have been aware of concerns within the local community and this has been our response.

"While the Section 60 authorisation was in place, 42 people were stopped and searched. This included four arrests and the seizure of two knives, a broken snooker cue and an axe."

Three men aged 28, 29 and 30 were arrested in the Weston area of the city on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place. The 28-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of drink-driving.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested in Sholing on suspicion of possessing a knife or bladed article in a public place.

Chief Inspector Phil Lamb said: “First and foremost, the Section 60 power helps us to prevent incidents of serious violent.

“We are also able to better apprehend those who are carrying weapons, or who are involved in planned violence.

“I have seen people ask why we tell you this beforehand. We do this because it is important you know what we are doing about violent crime in your communities.

"When we tell people a Section 60 has been authorised, it also may make those considering something think about their actions and the consequences that come with them.

“Without information from you, we are not able to do this and we act on the information you provide us.

“You will see us out patrolling again today. Please, if you have any concerns or information, do not hesitate to come and chat with us.

“If you are concerned about someone carrying weapons in your neighbourhood, or you see something suspicious you think is potentially related to serious violence, please call 999.”