TWO men have been arrested over allegations that a taxi driver was held against his will and forced to drive around County Durham.

The cab driver was allegedly threatened by his passengers before he finally managing to escape in Newton Aycliffe and raise the alarm.

He banged on a house door in to get the householder to call police.

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The car is then believed to have been driven off, and crashed into other vehicles.

The incident is thought to have started in Durham city centre shortly before midnight when the taxi driver picked up a fare on the slip road near the Gala Theatre at the bottom of Claypath.

Police said that initially, the pair asked to be taken to Consett.

The driver, thought to be from the Tyneside area, told officers that the passengers had taken over his vehicle.

A spokesman for Durham Police said: “Police received calls from residents in Moore Lane, Newton Aycliffe shortly after 2am today reporting a white Ford Focus taxi was being driven erratically up and down the street.

“Within minutes other residents from adjoining Mellanby Crescent contacted police to say the taxi had collided with a number of parked vehicles.

“A further call was then received by a resident who said a man had knocked at their door claiming to be the driver of the taxi.

“He stated he had picked up a fare in Durham consisting of two men who after initially asking to be taken to Consett had then taken over his vehicle, made threats against him and his family and had forced him to drive to various locations over a period of nearly three hours before eventually finishing in Newton Aycliffe."

At least three cars were damaged as taxi was driven through the streets, one of which was hit with such force that it was shunted around ten feet into two other vehicles.

One of the owners of the vehicles affected, said: "I only had the car four months but the insurance will sort it out. I am a bit gutted. At least no-one was inside."

Another added: "My car is a write-off. I don't think it can be repaired. I took all the impact and was pushed into the other cars."

Two men were detained near the scene and were last night being questioned at Durham City police station.

The arrested men, a 22-year-old from Spennymoor and a 24-year-old from Trimdon, were being questioned on suspicion of aggravated vehicle taking, robbery and false imprisonment. They are currently in custody at Durham city police office.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555111.