The producers of a horror film about crocodiles terrorising Somerset have been blamed for a reptile scare in Bristol.

Nick Gargan, the chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, tweeted that a 6ft-long crocodile had been spotted under a bridge in central Bristol.

He said: "One of our officers was flagged down by a bus driver, claiming to have seen a 6ft crocodile under Coronation Bridge. We can't find it."

The crocodile has not been found and few sightings have been reported. The incident was similar to the plot the makers of The Hatching created, raising suspicions that it was a marketing ploy.

The film was about two crocodiles terrifying locals in an English village. It was filmed in November and December in West Pennard, not far from Bristol. Directed by Michael Anderson, The Hatching tells the story of schoolboys breaking into a zoo and stealing the reptile eggs. When the eggs hatch, the baby crocodiles escape and cause havoc.

According to the production team, the public contacted the filmmakers alleging that crocodiles escaped while filming was taking place.

Tom Evans, marketing manager for Hatching Films, has denied the claims. He said: "The producers have asked me to get a message out to say, 'We were safe with our filming and had precautions in place.'"

Evans added that despite concerns, the supposed escaped crocodile had been a "marketing" gift for the film.

The film's animal trainer, Aria Das Neves, said: "We have no reason to believe any of the animals used in The Hatching did not make it back home safely.

"While we can confirm we did film with live crocodiles I have contacted the relevant holding zoos and they confirm that all our crocodiles are accounted for."

The alarm sparked a parody Twitter account @TheBristolCroc. After attracting over 1,000 followers in a day, the account has been suspended.