TERRIFIED passengers were left shaken and in tears after a gang of teens ran riot on a bus in Poole, assaulting a driver, with allegations that one youth had made threats involving a knife.

A bus passenger on another vehicle who asked not to be named, said the incident, which she claimed included a child as young as ten, had taken place at around 8pm at the stop near the New Inn on Wimborne Road and involved a Number 5 bus.

"A group of approximately eight to 10 youths tried to board a bus," she said. "The driver had the usual problem of poor behaviour and several without tickets and many of them were drunk. He told them to leave the bus but they became aggressive. "

She said that after an off-duty driver stepped in, the youths ran off the bus and into the road where one was glanced by a car, breaking the wing mirror. "They then tried to board a bus going the other way and immediately became aggressive with that driver. He had to act in self defence as they became physical," she claimed.

She claims to have seen youths 'spitting, throwing punches, and kicking' and then trying to rip the bus's closed doors open. "Our bus had to leave quickly as they then came back across the road and started hitting the windows and throwing bottles at it," she said, saying passengers were scared and one woman was crying.

She also claimed that another passenger reported hearing one youth say he would 'get a knife next time'.

Police said it was reported that a group of teenagers had attempted to board the bus for free and became aggressive when the bus driver denied them. "It is alleged the bus driver was assaulted before the group left," said a spokesman. "The driver did not require hospital treatment."

"An altercation involving the group was subsequently reported outside the New Inn pub on Wimborne Road and when a woman aged in her 30s went to intervene it is alleged they became aggressive toward her and made threats to damage her property," he said. "Officers attended and a search of the area was carried out."

He admitted it was reported that threats were made but there were no reports that a knife was seen and no knife was recovered by officers.

Morebus general manager Adam Keen described the reported behaviour as 'abhorrent' and pledged the company would work closely with police to identify those responsible.

"The behaviour of this group of youths was abhorrent and it is absolutely unacceptable for any of our drivers to be subjected to it," he said. "We are shocked by this alleged assault and will work closely with the police to prosecute the perpetrators."

He said Morebus had already supplied CCTV footage and was 'supporting our colleague in his return to work' as well as collaborating with Poole BID and the police to help improve behaviour in Poole Bus Station. "However, incidents outside of the town centre are more challenging to deal with," he said.

However, he warned that anti-social behaviour on Morebus buses will not be tolerated, and the company would use footage to identify those responsible.

Police confirmed that a 19-year-old Poole man was arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, a 17-year-old Bournemouth boy was arrested on suspicion of assault, criminal damage and threats to damage or destroy property and a 16-year-old Bournemouth boy was arrested on suspicion of assault and threats to damage or destroy property. All three are assisting officers with their enquiries.