The Metropolitan Police’s website has been targeted by hackers who posted a series of bizarre tweets from the force’s official account.
Late on Friday night, a number of tweets were sent from the force’s Twitter account, which has more than 1.22 million followers, calling for the release of drill rap artist Digga D.
One post, which has since been deleted, read: “We aim to make London the safest global city; Be the best crime-fighters, by any measure; Earn the trust and confidence of every community; Take pride in the quality of our service; So people love, respect and are proud of London’s Met.”
Another said: “FREE DIGGA D ON FOENEM GANG.”
Scotland Yard said in a statement there had been no “hack” of its IT infrastructure and the security issue had only affected its MyNewsDesk account, which it uses to issue news releases.
“Last night, Friday 19 July, unauthorised messages appeared on the news section of our website as well as on the @metpoliceuk Twitter feed and in emails sent to subscribers.
“While we are still working to establish exactly what happened, we have begun making changes to our access arrangements to MyNewsDesk,” it said.
Some of the posts also linked to false press releases expressing anti-police sentiments and calling for Digga D’s release.
The rapper, whose real name is Rhys Herbert, was jailed last year aged 17 alongside four other members of the 1011 gang, after they were caught with baseball bats and machetes on their way to attack rivals.
Herbert, now aged 19, was handed a 12-month detention and training order after admitting conspiracy to commit violent disorder and possession of a bladed article in a public place.
The music group, based in Ladbroke Grove in west London, amassed millions of views on YouTube with their drill tracks, featuring violent lyrics.
The genre of rap music, which often features masked or hooded groups of men talking about guns, drugs and stabbings, has been linked to a rise in violent crime in the capital.
Herbert and the others were also given three-year criminal behaviour orders restricting them from making music with violent lyrics and ordering them to inform police of new videos and upcoming performances.
Following Friday’s apparent hack Scotland Yard said: “We apologise to our subscribers and followers for the messages they have received.
“At this stage, we are confident the only security issue relates to access to our MyNewsDesk account.
“We are assessing to establish what criminal offences have been committed.”
President Donald Trump used the incident as an opportunity to renew his attack on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Quoting a tweet from right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins which said officers have “lost control of London streets” and “lost control of their twitter account too”, Mr Trump wrote: “With the incompetent Mayor of London, you will never have safe streets!”
Earlier, a Scotland Yard superintendent had said the Met’s official account has “been subject to unauthorised access”.
Superintendent Roy Smith tweeted: “Our media team are working hard to delete the messages and ensure the security of the account. Please ignore any Tweets until we verify that it is back under official control.”