A security scare on Friday 27th of November 2015 prompted a complete evacuation of Manchester’s Christmas markets.
Town hall bosses say a full security alert was put in place after a “stupid, silly” hoaxer made a 999 call in the early hours of the morning.
In connection with the incident in Albert Square, a 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communication.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “At 4:50am on Friday 27 November 2015, police received an abandoned 999 call regarding the Christmas Markets in Manchester city centre. Later, a man claimed a ‘package’ had been left in the market.”
The 19-year old, thought to be an intoxicated student, remains in police custody for questioning.
During the evacuation on Friday morning, the Christmas markets outside the town hall were sealed off, with PCSOs patrolling the entrances. Other officers and sniffer dogs were seen to be searching the closed stalls in the Albert Square region, reportedly looking between and underneath the outlets for suspicious items.
Trading at the markets was delayed for around two hours whilst police ensured there was no danger to the public. The site was first re-opened to traders at around midday, and then fully re-opened to the public just before 1pm.
Earlier in the day, city councillor Pat Karney said: “This stupid, silly person has triggered our full security response and officers are now searching the stalls. I hope when he sobers up he realises the mayhem he has caused. We believe it will be business as usual again soon.”
Manchester City Council’s executive member for Neighbourhoods, councillor Nigel Murphy, emphasised that “there is no threat to public safety” after the hoax. He also commended the security systems of Manchester’s Christmas markets, stating: “The markets have the appropriate security systems in place, and although we would prefer to never have to test them, it’s reassuring that the markets are as safe as they can be and the safety of our visitors is paramount.”
In a statement by Greater Manchester Police, Chief Superintendent Wasim Chaudhry, said: “Based on the nature of information we received, we conducted a thorough search of the area and found nothing suspicious or a threat to the public. I understand people may have been frustrated by the closure but I would like to thank them for their patience.
“We take all incidents such as this extremely seriously and the safety of the community we serve is our priority. We have plans in place with the Local Authority for instances such as this and they were implemented successfully.”