NEIGHBOURS have spoken of their shock at seeing a gang of knife-wielding balaclava youths running down their leafy Penhill street.

At 8pm on Monday police were called to reports of two groups of young men racing down Leigh Road, passed Seven Fields Primary School.

The groups, which police say each numbered up to 15 youths, were seen armed with an imitation firearm, a knife, a ‘rounders bat’ and other weapons.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, saw one lad carrying a knife with a blade that he said was up to four inches long.

The man, 61, drew a picture of the knife for police officers. He said the knife had a metal knuckle-duster style handle.

“There was a crowd of lads coming down the lane,” he said.

“There were about half a dozen of them. Some were on bikes and some were on foot. They went past and then there was another crowd following them.”

The man estimated that the youths were aged around 14-15. He said the groups were shouting ‘foul language’ at each other. Some were wearing balaclavas, covering their faces.

“Another one I saw had a rounders bat. He was threatening them [the other group] with it.

“It was only between themselves. I was a bit worried about them hurting each other.”

Another neighbour told the Adver: “It was all over in minutes.”

Police received the call at around 8pm on Monday evening. Officers, including an armed response unit, rushed to the scene – arriving seven minutes after the first report was received.

Wiltshire Police said that when their officers arrived the youths scattered from Leigh Road. Some headed towards Penhill, others towards Pinehurst and some in the direction of Pond Street in Haydon Wick.

A number of ‘suspects’ were spoken to by police, who conducted a search of the area. No weapons were found and no injuries have been reported.

One neighbour said a police officer he spoke to on Monday evening told him: “We’re trying to stamp it [gang violence] out.”

Leigh Road residents said that violence between youths was highly unusual on the leafy Penhill street.

A mum-of-one, who has lived on Leigh Road since Christmas and was not at home when the altercation happened, said: “It’s quite scary. We thought it was a really quiet area. But we went away and came back to this.”

However, youths we spoke to near Leigh Road suggested that aggression between groups of youths in Pinehurst and Penhill could be growing.

One, a 19-year-old who has lived near Penhill Recreation Ground all his life, said of the violence: “When it does happen, it happens.”

Wiltshire Police have appealed for anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

PC Holly Moffat said: "This happened in broad daylight and we have had a number of reports of what happened already.

"We'd also like to hear from anyone who may have CCTV coverage of the incident; please be assured your identity will be protected," she said.

PC Moffat can be contacted on 101 or anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.