A ROW over a comment made on Facebook is believed to have led to a big street brawl between two groups of youths.
Shocked residents looked on as more than a dozen people fought and shouted abuse at each other in the car park of Canberra House in Arundel Street, Landport.
Police say that insults traded on social networking websites are causing more and more trouble.
Officers in three police vans and four cars were called to break up the disturbance shortly after 6pm on Saturday evening.
A police source said: ‘It was a domestic. Someone said something on Facebook and it all went a bit pear-shaped.’
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she was shocked by the incident.
‘It was awful and it just seemed to come from nowhere,’ she said.
‘We heard all this shouting and screaming and my husband called me saying “come and look at this”. When I looked out of the window there were policemen everywhere rounding them up.
‘It was bad. It seemed to be mostly young girls. Some of the girls could have only been 14 or 15 years old. There was also some women who looked a bit older there who looked like they were the girls’ mothers.’
The witness said one of the young girls kicked and screamed as officers led her to a police van. She said: ‘She kept kicking the doors shut so they couldn’t get her in. In the end they had to manhandle her to get her in.’
Portsmouth’s Chief Superintendent, Nigel Hindle, said police have been dealing with an increasing number of disputes which escalated after starting on the internet.
‘It is something we are seeing more of all the time,’ he said. ‘People need to realise that comments posted on Facebook can have the same consequences as verbal speech, except they are going out to far more people.
‘We take threats made on the internet very seriously, and checking what has been posted on Facebook has become part of our daily routine.’
Police spokesman Tim Feltham said: ‘Several arrests were made and everything was back in order by 6.36pm.’
Mr Feltham added: ‘The majority of people who were arrested were de-arrested and released once the disorder had passed.’
Kimberley Smith, 26, from Bayford Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex, was charged with a public order offence for using threatening or abusive language that may invoke fear of provocation or violence.
She will appear before Portsmouth Magistrates on February 7. Police confirmed that a 15-year-old boy received a final warning for affray.