A bomb scare forced the evacuation of businesses and members of the public from Broad Street earlier this morning.

Worried crowds gathered outside police cordons shortly after 11am and police officers told curious members of the public to stay back.

Thames Valley Police confirmed at noon they had been searching for a “device” and their specialist dog unit was mobilised so a thorough search could be conducted.

READ MORE: Oxford: Police search city centre for 'device' on Broad Street

The public was warned to stay away, as the bookshop Blackwell’s, the King's Arms pub and students in the nearby libraries were evacuated. 

Oxford Mail: Crowds gather outside the police cordonCrowds gather outside the police cordon (Image: Ed Halford)

Thames Travel buses temporarily suspended services in the area, and traffic congestion clogged up the major surrounding roads.


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Oxford University students at Hertford College said fire alarms started sounding just after 11am and they were told to drop what they were doing and leave immediately.Oxford Mail: Students gather outside the library after the evacuationStudents gather outside the library after the evacuation (Image: Ed Halford)

Hertford College student Eloise George, 22, said: “I was in college at the time and the fire alarm went off, so we had to rush out.”

The Bodleian libraries were temporarily closed in response to the incident.

Jacob, a history doctorate student who did not wish to reveal his surname or age, said there was “confusion as to why the evacuation was happening”.

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Oxford Mail: Police on duty behind the cordonPolice on duty behind the cordon (Image: Ed Halford)

There was a constant stream of people going up to police officers at the end of Turl Street to ask them about the incident from around 11am.

Knoops Chocolate sits at the end of Turl Street and its manager Cara, who did not wish to reveal her surname, said “never has anything like this happened before”.

She explained: “We get protests, but we’ve never seen police tape or the diversion of traffic.”

The manager said that from when the police started cordoning off the area at around 10.45am, they had a lot of customers coming in and asking why the street had been evacuated.

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Oxford Mail: A member of the public asks the police officer about the cordonA member of the public asks the police officer about the cordon (Image: Ed Halford)

She said the shop’s business had not been drastically affected, as they usually experienced “more of a rush in the afternoon.”

Staff at Blackwell’s and other business owners asked to leave the area said the police did not reveal the reason behind the evacuation at the time.

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Kirsty East, a staff member at Broad Street sandwich shop ItaliaAmo Café, said when the evacuation started at 10.20am it was “very calm”, but she was worried about the immediate impact on sales.

Ms East said: “We were shut for just under two hours.

“We do have a lot of people coming in so it has disrupted our sales so hopefully we can sell everything by the end of today.

“We’ve lost a bit of money due to this but of course we need to be safe.”

Buttery Hotel staff said they also immediately evacuated three guest rooms and were given little explanation from the police as to why there was such a sense of urgency.

In a short statement, Thames Valley Police confirmed that “no device was located” and they thanked the public for their “patience and cooperation”.