UK police commissioner calls for inquiry into fake bomb

May 16, 2016

LONDON (AP) The mayor of greater Manchester on Monday demanded an inquiry into a security ''fiasco'' that saw Manchester United's stadium evacuated after a fake bomb was left behind from a security training exercise.

The discovery of the realistic-looking dummy bomb on Sunday prompted the evacuation of the 75,000-seat Old Trafford stadium minutes before Manchester United's last game of the season was due to start.

Police said the device discovered in a toilet just before kickoff was left by a private company after a drill using search dogs last week.

British media identified the firm involved as Security Search Management and Solutions, which conducted an exercise last week with Manchester United's search-dog teams. The company could not immediately be reached for comment and it was not immediately clear why the device was not found earlier.


Army bomb disposal experts blew up the fake device, described by police as ''incredibly lifelike.''

John O'Hare, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said that ''on appearance this device was as real as could be, and the decision to evacuate the stadium was the right thing to do, until we could be sure that people were not at risk.''

Mayor Tony Lloyd praised the police response but said the incident had put people in danger.

''This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the army's bomb squad, and unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk,'' he said.

Sunday's evacuation came amid tightened security at Premier League stadiums following last year's Paris attacks that targeted the Stade de France stadium as well as cafes, bars and a concert hall.

Britain last week upgraded the threat of an attack on the mainland from Northern Irish militants from moderate to substantial, meaning an attack is a strong possibility.

The Provisional Irish Republican Army has observed a cease-fire since July 1997 and renounced violence in 2005, but several rival factions opposed to Northern Ireland's peace process have mounted gun and bomb attacks on police and security officials in recent years.

The threat level to the U.K. from international terrorism stands at severe - the second highest point on a five-point scale - meaning an attack is ''highly likely.''