500 people evacuated after suspicious package found in Portsmouth University building

CORDON A Police cordon is put in place in Portsmouth Guildhall.  Picture: Andrew Wilson
CORDON A Police cordon is put in place in Portsmouth Guildhall. Picture: Andrew Wilson
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POLICE sealed off an area of Portsmouth today after a suspicious package was found in a university building.

The alert was sparked after the item was found in the St Michael’s building of University of Portsmouth at 1pm today.

Police man barriers during a bomb scare in Portsmouth city centre.  Picture: Steve Reid

Police man barriers during a bomb scare in Portsmouth city centre. Picture: Steve Reid

University security staff evacuated 500 staff and students and police cordoned off the area near the Guildhall on White Swan Road.

But shortly after 2.30pm the cordon was taken down and the area opened again.

The modern, silver St Michael’s building, which is close to James Watson student halls of residence where 500 undergraduates live, is where the university’s science faculty is based.

More than a dozen firefighters were called to the scene. The special equipment truck and two pumps from Cosham and one pump from Southsea fire stations were also tasked to stand-by while Hampshire police dealt with the situation.

Barry Saunders, 65, from Medina Road, Cosham, said: ‘I was in the library, came out to get back in my car and all this was kicking off.

‘They said there was some sort of suspect package and you can’t take any risks with something like that. You’ve got to make sure it’s safety first so I didn’t mind having to wait. I don’t think a traffic warden would dare put a ticket on my car in these circumstances.’

Sam Clark, 19, from Winter Road, a biochemistry student at King Henry building, which was also cordoned off, said: ‘It all happened about 15 minutes before I was due to hand in some work so I’ve had to wait, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m glad no-one’s hurt. I bet it was just some sloppy student who had left their bag there by mistake.’

A police spokesman said the package had been delivered and was intended for someone at the university but the labelling was not clear and gave cause for concern.

Inspector Phil Jones said: ‘I’d like to thank everyone for their patience. Luckily, there was nothing to worry about on this occasion. We took these measures to cordon off the area for everyone’s safety both at the university building and in the vicinity.’