A “harmless” electrical device was to blame for a bomb scare in Peterborough city centre, according to the officer in charge of the police response.
Inspector Dominic Glazebrook said a device measuring two inches by one inch, which was bleeping inside a toilet bin, caused the evacuation of hundreds of workers this morning (Tuesday, December 13).
The tiny device was found at the car park next to the city market by a member of the public who called the police.
It was then destroyed in a controlled explosion by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad.
Inspector Glazebrook, who would not go into further detail about what the device was, said: “At around 9.15 this morning we had a call from a member of the public saying there was a device in a bag in one of the toilets at Northminster car park.
“A sound was believed to be coming from the bag that was in the toilets.
“The fire, the ambulance service and bomb disposal were all called out.
“Subsequently EOD carried out a controlled explosion on the device. The device was found to be an electrical device which was harmless. We are happy that it was a result of somebody disposing of a device that was making noise that caused the call to be made to us.
“The person that made the call acted perfectly properly making the call and we are really grateful to him for him making the call. The area around the device had to be evacuated of a distance of 100m.
“This was on the advice of the EOD.
“We are grateful for the cooperation of the general public in adhering to the 100m cordon and we apologise for the inconvenience caused while the device was being made safe.
“I believe it was the correct cause of action in the circumstances - rather than looking inside the bag and putting somebody at risk - to call out bomb disposal to carry out a controlled explosion.”
Asked if he was aware of a similar incident in the city centre, Inspector Glazebrook said: “We do from time to time get reports of things being left in city centre car parks such as suitcases and shopping bags and we do get called to objects like that.
“We would urge people to take care when leaving items unattended in car parks or the city centre such as suitcases and bags. Be aware that leaving things unattended can cause distress to other people.
“I’m not aware of other incidents in the city centre where people have had to be evacuated.”
The bomb squad, Inspector Glazebrook said, “arrived around 11.15am. They parked their vehicle at the edge of the cordon, 100m away, and sent a device in to examine the device before they carried out the controlled explosion.”
If members of the public encounter a suspicious package in the future, he added: “Go to a distance of 20m from the device, ring the police, then remain in the area so you can talk to the police.”