A bank in the city centre was evacuated after a man allegedly threatened staff with an imitation firearm.

Police were called to HSBC on Cornmarket Street in Oxford around 10am following reports a suspect was in possession of a gun and threatening members of staff. 

Armed Thames Valley Police officers deployed to the scene, challenged the man and safely resolved the incident.

A 40-year-old man from Oxfordshire was arrested, and as of late Tuesday he remained in police custody.

Superintendent Matt Bullivant of Thames Valley Police said: “This was a concerning incident and our officers rapidly deployed to the scene which led to the incident being safely resolved.

"Thankfully no one was injured and I would like to praise staff for their handling of what must have been a very worrying incident.

“Incidents such as this are very rare in the Thames Valley, but we will always respond immediately in order to resolve them safely and protect members of the public.” 

Staff on shift at The Crown pub, located behind the bank, expressed their shock, as they had never heard of an incident of this nature taking place in the area.

Andy Chelsea, an Oxford resident who witnessed police arriving at the scene, said: “Two armed officers went in the right-hand entrance, with two more then entering through the outside doors on the left. There was a BMW X5 there and then a Volvo turned up.”

An empty police vehicle remained stationed outside the bank following the incident for much of Tuesday. 

The on-duty manager at Fernando's Café, adjacent to the bank at Carfax Gardens, said he knew an incident must be in progress due to the police presence and wondered what was going on.

The on-duty manager of Pret A Manger opposite HSBC said she witnessed armed officers dressed in all black enter the bank, and saw them stowing guns away in the boot of one of the vehicles after the incident. 

A spokesperson for HSBC said: “There was an incident in our Oxford Cornmarket branch just before 10am, to which the police and our branch colleagues responded calmly and quickly.

“The incident did lead to an evacuation from the branch. The branch was closed for less than an hour immediately afterwards and again from 2.30pm to support our branch colleagues and to assist the police with their enquiries.”

HSBC confirmed they expected the bank to reopen as normal from 9.30am today (Wednesday, November 28). 

A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police subsequently said: "The man has been bailed until February 27 while investigations continue" and added that there were no further updates at this time.