Homemade replica suicide vest sparks police probe in Sheffield city centre

Library picture of an explosive expert defusing real suicide vests. A homemade replica has been gound in Sheffield city centre.
Library picture of an explosive expert defusing real suicide vests. A homemade replica has been gound in Sheffield city centre.
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Police in Sheffield have launched an investigation after a homemade replica suicide vest was found hung on railings in the city centre.

The item resembling a real suicide vest “had the potential to cause widespread distress and draw a significant policing response” in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, according to detectives.

According to South Yorkshire Police, officers attended the scene on Furnival Gate and the item was checked and found to be a homemade replica. The vest contained no viable parts or explosive elements.

The incident took place at 12.11pm on November 19, only days after the attacks on Paris which killed 130 people, but was only been revealed by the force today.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker, from the Sheffield Local Policing Unit, 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.

Floral tributes and candles left at Le Carillon, Paris, after terror attacks killed at least 129 people in the city. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Floral tributes and candles left at Le Carillon, Paris, after terror attacks killed at least 129 people in the city. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

“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.

“Recent events in Paris have brought into sharp focus the type and scale of threat posed by international terrorism, and the relationship between the police and the public needs to be stronger than ever before to counter this threat.

“The member of the public did exactly the right thing in contacting police immediately, but it’s vitally important that policing resources are used to deal with real threats and not foolish pranks.

“People are asked to remain vigilant, and to report anything that could be terrorist-related to specialist officers via the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on: 0800 789 321.

“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.”

Steve Whittaker, South Yorkshire Police

“An investigation is ongoing to establish who left the item and I would ask anyone with information to come forward.”

Anyone who can assist the investigation is asked to contact police via: 101 and quoting incident number 454 from the 19 November.