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Suspicious package shuts down University of Essex

PUBLISHED: 00:03 07 March 2019

Staff and students were evacuated following the discovery of a suspect package.  Picture: ED BRERETON

Staff and students were evacuated following the discovery of a suspect package. Picture: ED BRERETON

Ed Brereton

The University of Essex was cordoned off and evacuated yesterday after police received reports of a suspicious package on campus.

A section of the University of Essex was evacuated after police received reports of a suspicious package Picture: CAROLINA GARRIGAA section of the University of Essex was evacuated after police received reports of a suspicious package Picture: CAROLINA GARRIGA

Police were called at around 11.50am on Wednesday, March 6 and a 100m cordon was put in place, blocking off many of the university’s lecture halls, as well as staff offices.

The bomb squad, based in Colchester, were scrambled to the scene and arrived at the campus to make sure the area was safe.

All scheduled classes for the remainder of the day were cancelled, while the students’ union confirmed their weekly club night would be put off due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

A student of the university, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I only arrived at 3pm and I couldn’t get to my lecture, this is all insane. Turning up and hearing a helicopter at university isn’t normal.”

A police cordon is in place at the University of Essex Picture: JAKE FOXFORDA police cordon is in place at the University of Essex Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

Journalism student Rebecca Russell, who was also caught up in the drama, added: “It’s crazy. It’s really crowded outside of the university.”

Student accommodation was outside of the area cordoned off by police, prompting the University to advise students to return to their halls.

Police lifted the cordon at around 4.30pm after the package was deemed not to pose a threat.

The university later announced the reopening of the campus via Twitter, saying: “All buildings at our Colchester campus are now open. If you’ve already made your way home, we’ll see you back on campus tomorrow.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Following reports of a suspicious package at the University of Essex, we responded accordingly and swiftly, prioritising the safety of staff, students and the wider public whilst we determined the nature of what we were dealing with.

“We carried out numerous enquiries with partner specialist agencies and investigative work to determine whether the package was indeed suspicious. Thankfully it was determined not to pose any risk to the public.”

The specifics of the package remain unknown.

The incident came an hour after a suspicious parcel was found at Glasgow University, resulting in a controlled explosion by bomb disposal officers. Police in Scotland confirmed it was working with the Metropolitan force after three suspect packages found in London on Tuesday.

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