Media students' dumped suitcases spark scare at University of Portsmouth as police seal off part of grounds

SUITCASES full of student props sparked a scare at the University of Portsmouth, prompting police to seal off part of the campus.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 2:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 8:49 pm

The suspicious items – which had been abandoned in a Morrisons shopping trolley – had been reported to Hampshire Constabulary by a worried caller at 2.45am.

Officers attended the scene, close to the Eldon Building in Middle Street, before taping the area off.

It remained under police guard until about 9.30am, witnesses said, when the all-clear was given.

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The suitcases left in a trolley by the Eldon Building in Middle Street, Portsmouth, which sparked a police cordon earlier today.

Now the police force has revealed the packages were simply props used by media students who had been filming nearby yesterday and were never a threat to the public.

A spokesman for Hampshire police said: ‘We were called at 2.45am today with a report of a suitcase being left near to the Eldon Building at the University of Portsmouth.

‘Officers attended and a cordon was put in place. However, the suitcase was just a prop left by media students filming near the university last night.

‘Whilst there was no threat on this occasion, we encourage anyone with concerns to report suspicious items to us.’

The Eldon Building at the University of Portsmouth, which was the centre of a scare after a suspicious pair of suitcases was left near it. Photo: Google.

It’s understood the police attended the scene several hours after receiving the call, with a spokesman adding the force had been ‘confident’ there was no risk to public safety.

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed no specialists, like the bomb disposal team, had been called at any point.

A spokesman added officers were able to find the students responsible for leaving the suitcases outside at about 9.11am, when the all-clear was officially confirmed. The cordon was lifted soon after.

The situation left those arriving for work in the city centre mystified.

One woman, who was working in Middle Street but asked not to be identified, said: ‘It looked more like a police exercise. There was only one police officer there when I turned up to work at 8.30am. The cordon was gone by 9.30am.’

Another man added: ‘It was very strange. Nobody really knew what was happening.’

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The University of Portsmouth declined to comment about the false alarm.

The education institution is home to more than 24,000 students.

Last year it was labelled as one of the nation’s least safe universities, in a nationwide student survey by the Times Higher Education group, with Portsmouth placing 103rd out of 116.

The University of Chichester was hailed among the nation’s most safe by students, placing joint third.

The University of Oxford was 24th, with the University of Southampton just below that at 34th. Southampton Solent University was 102nd.