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Mock suicide vest left in Sheffield city centre sparks police criticism

Published 04/12/2015

Police said if someone had been seen with the vest, the response would have in all probability involved armed officers
Police said if someone had been seen with the vest, the response would have in all probability involved armed officers

Pranksters have been criticised by police after sparking a security alert by leaving a mock suicide vest in a busy city centre days after the Paris terror attacks.

A concerned member of the public raised the alarm after seeing the item hanging on railings in central Sheffield.

Officers raced to the scene at Furnival Gate and checks quickly revealed the vest was a "homemade replica" which contained no viable parts or explosive elements.

The incident took place just after midday on November 19 - six days after terrorists, including several wearing suicide vests, murdered 130 people in the French capital.

South Yorkshire Police have launched an investigation to determine who was behind the prank, while issuing a warning about the dangers of such behaviour.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker said: "While the item was quickly determined to be a hoax, given the recent events in Paris this clearly had the potential to cause widespread distress and draw a significant policing response.

"Following investigation I believe this incident was an ill-judged prank, but people must remember the very real dangers of this type of behaviour.

"If someone had been seen with the vest, the policing response would have in all probability involved armed officers and placed the individual in very serious danger."

Events in Paris have "brought into sharp focus the type and scale of threat posed by international terrorism", Mr Whittaker said.

He added: "The relationship between the police and the public needs to be stronger than ever before to counter this threat.

"People are asked to remain vigilant and to report anything that could be terrorist-related."

Police have asked anyone with information about who left the vest to come forward.

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