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13 February 2014, 13:27
Counter-terrorism police are investigating reports of suspect packages being found at army careers offices across the Thames Valley
Packages have been found at Oxford, Slough and Brighton, while similar packages were found yesterday in Aldershot, Reading and Chatham, the south east counter terrorism Unit said.
Ministry of Defence bomb disposal units have been called, although this is routine with any suspect package.
Detective Superintendent Stan Gilmour, of the south east counter terrorism unit, said: "Because suspicious packages were found at various locations yesterday, notes were sent out to all the army careers offices, as well as the Post Office, asking staff to be extra vigilant and look out for any suspect packages.''
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We can confirm that we are aware of security incidents ongoing in Oxford, Slough and Brighton involving armed forces careers offices.
"The relevant police authorities are investigating with military EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) teams in support and any further inquiries should be directed to the police.
"Security advice has been reiterated to our personnel.''
Queensmere Shopping Centre, in Slough, was evacuated, a spokesman for the centre confirmed, while St Giles in Oxford was closed.
A Royal Mail spokesperson's told Heart: “This matter is being investigated by the police and we are co-operating with them in their investigation.”
It is understood a suspicious package was also reported at the army careers office in St Peters Street, in Canterbury, Kent.
The following statement has been issued by Thames Valley Police on behalf of the South East Counter Terrorism Unit:
Officers from the South East Counter Terrorism Unit (SECTU) are currently investigating a series of suspect packages sent to Army Careers offices across the region.
So far seven suspect packages have been received at the following South East locations:
Armed Forces Careers Office, St Marys Butts, Reading, and the Army and RAF Careers office at Dock Road, Chatham, Kent, on Tuesday (11/2).
The Army Careers Office, Hospital Hill, Aldershot, Hampshire, yesterday (12/2).
Army Careers offices in St Giles, Oxford, Queensmere Shopping Centre, Slough, Queens Road, Brighton, and St Peter's Street, Canterbury, today (13/2).
Det Supt Stan Gilmour of SECTU said: “The contents of the packages are suspicious in nature and will now be sent off for forensic examination. Even if the contents are determined to be a viable device they pose a very low level threat and are unlikely to cause significant harm or damage.
“When a suspect package is reported we have a routine response which means we may need to evacuate the area if necessary until we can be sure it poses no threat to the public. Whilst this can cause concern and disruption for local communities, it is a necessary precaution until we know what we are dealing with.”
Advice has been sent to the Royal Mail and to the MOD to ensure staff remain vigilant and contact police if they have any concerns about packages.