Chief Superintendent Jon Simpson of Hertfordshire Police said the three murders in Bushey are believed to be “targeted”.

He told reporters: “Our overarching objective today is to protect public safety and to locate Kyle Clifford, who is wanted in connection with the murder of the three women in what we believe is a targeted incident.

“We have extensive police resources deployed to various locations in north London and also the Bushey area.

“The manhunt also involves armed police officers and specialist search teams responding at pace in the wake of what has been a horrific incident involving what is currently believed to be a crossbow, but other weapons may also have been used.”

Chief Superintendent Jon Simpson said the victims were aged 25, 28 and 61.

Addressing Clifford directly, he said: “Kyle, if you are seeing or hearing this, please make contact with the police.”

He repeated warnings to the public not to approach him, but to call 999 if they see him.

Hertfordshire police and crime commissioner Jonathan Ash-Edwards said: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of the women who have been shockingly killed in this terrible incident in Bushey.

“It will no doubt send shockwaves through the local community and across Hertfordshire.

“I am being kept updated by the police and I urge the public to support the police with any information about the whereabouts of the named suspect.”

Armed police have searched an address in Rendlesham Road, Enfield, as the manhunt for Kyle Clifford continues.

The house, close to Gordon Hill railway station, was swarmed by officers on Wednesday morning, according to neighbours.

Two officers were stood outside the property at 1.30pm, after a cordon was removed.