Suspect package brings Fareham to standstill

Written by Connor Steel (update at 7.45pm) / Photograph from Darren Pepe (Hampshire Live)

FAREHAM SHOPPING CENTRE was shut down for three hours this afternoon due to a suspicious package being identified on a busy Thursday afternoon; with hundreds of shoppers banned from entering, roads closed and residents evacuated from their homes for over three hours whilst a major operation swung into action in boiling temperatures.

Police and emergency services were called just after midday, quickly erecting an one hundred metre cordon from Poundland to the corner of West Street (Papa Johns). All stores and restaurants in the shopping centre were forced to close as a precaution, whilst shoppers weren’t permitted to access their vehicles in the surrounding car parks. Residents living nearby were also evacuated as a result of safety procedures, which are regularly updated and reviewed for these situations.

The nearby bus station was also shut down with no comings or goings from the busy stop, although another route start / finish point was set up outside the cordon to reduce disruption. Train services weren’t affected by the incident whilst roads were fairly quieter than normal despite the closures as people were told to completely avoid the scene.

A joint emergency response saw police joined by multiple South Coast Ambulance Service teams, including the Hazardous Area Response Team, and a Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service vehicle. After safety measures and evacuation was complete, the device was investigated using technology from the Royal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team and deemed to be safe.

In the meantime there was confusion online as residents began to speculate on the events, with rumours suggesting a ‘bomb threat’ and the finding of  an ‘unexploded World War Two device’.  But both of these ideas were proved untrue by a police statement after four o clock in which they confirmed a ‘suspicious package’ had been found and there was no threat to the public at any point during the afternoon’s events’.

In an official statement Hampshire Constabulary said: “The cordon in West Street, Fareham, has now been lifted and emergency services are standing down from the scene”

“We would like to thank everyone in the local community for their patience whilst we dealt with this incident”

“Officers were called earlier this afternoon to an area near Poundland after shop staff discovered a suspicious package”.

“Emergency services were supported by the Royal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team who conducted a number of enquiries, which established the item posed no threat and the item was made safe.”

“Public safety is always our utmost priority in these situations, and we want to reassure you that we are satisfied there is no threat to the public.

“In addition, we want to thank the local Tesco supermarket who provided water to members of the public and emergency services in the area.”

With the security cordon released and people returning to their vehicles after a long afternoon, shops were allowed to reopen shortly after 4pm and emergency services stood down soon afterwards.  So far this evening, there seems to be no lasting damage in terms of disruption, with roads flowing and transport links back to normal after a standstill three hours. 

For more photographs, readers can visit the link of: In pictures: Fareham town centre evacuated after ‘suspicious package’ found prompting police cordon – HampshireLive.