Police investigate cause of panic among thousands in central London
Armed police responded to the area but said nothing had been found and the Tube station has re-opened.
Police are investigating what caused panic among thousands of rush-hour commuters and Black Friday shoppers in the heart of central London.
Armed police raced to Oxford Circus Tube station and Oxford Street after receiving 999 calls reporting that shots had been fired.
At about 16:38 we started to receive numerous 999 calls reporting shots fired in a number of locations on #OxfordStreet & at Oxford Circus tube station. Given the nature of the info received we responded as if the incident was terrorism, including the deployment of armed officers— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) November 24, 2017
A big thank you for bearing with us whilst we and @metpoliceuk responded to #OxfordCircus.— BTP (@BTP) November 24, 2017
Armed officers were quickly on scene, no evidence of gunfire found. The area was searched swiftly and we are working to lift cordons and reopen stations.
But around 90 minutes after responding, police said there was no evidence of any shots, casualties or suspects.
Oxford Circus Tube and Bond Street stations have reopened, most cordons have been removed and the area has returned to normal.
The cordon has been lifted. No one can explain the bangs which have been reportedly heard, even officers on the scene don’t know pic.twitter.com/n2FFyt1lxi— Georgina Stubbs (@georginafstubbs) November 24, 2017
This includes the Royal Variety Performance at the nearby London Palladium going ahead as planned, although the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has been delayed.
British Transport Police received reports at 4.37pm of gunfire on the westbound Central Line platform. Shortly afterwards the Metropolitan Police also took similar calls.
The Met said: “Given the nature of the information received, the Met responded in line with our existing operation as if the incident was terrorism, including the deployment of armed officers.
“Officers working with colleagues from British Transport Police carried out an urgent search of the area. No casualties, evidence of any shots fired or any suspects were located by police.”
Rush hour continues... pic.twitter.com/uuKJcqH8VQ— Georgina Stubbs (@georginafstubbs) November 24, 2017
Passengers fled the station on to Oxford Circus and Regent Street causing a minor injury to one woman.
BTP said there was “a significant level of panic”, adding that it was “examining the circumstances of the incident which resulted in the station being evacuated”.
Selfridges London was evacuated today as a precautionary measure. We have been working with @MetPoliceUK and can confirm that were no reported incidents in store. Oxford Circus and Bond Street tube stations are now back open.— Selfridges (@Selfridges) November 24, 2017
Describing the panic, BBC producer Helen Bushby said: “I was just walking down from the BBC towards the Tube and there was a mass stampede away from the Tube as fast as they could.
“They were crying, they were screaming, they were dropping their shopping bags. It was a very panicked scene.
“People said they heard a gunshot and panic was just spreading.”