Police are now treating this morning’s ‘coffee cup’ bomb threat in Stevenage as a hoax and are hunting for the thoughtless pranksters who planted the device.

The Comet: The suspicious device was located by a member of council staff in The Forum, Stevenage.The suspicious device was located by a member of council staff in The Forum, Stevenage. (Image: Archant)

Officers cordoned off streets around The Forum after the device – which consisted of a polystyrene coffee cup with microchips and wires attached – was found in the car park near TK Maxx shortly before 9am.

A police cordon was put in place as a bomb disposal team was called in to detonate the device.

They carried out a controlled explosion just before 11.20am, and the cordon and road closures were then lifted in stages.

But this afternoon police announced the device was a hoax and criticised those who planted it causing alarm and distress to many people.

The Comet: Fire crews on standby next to Fairlands Way. Picture: SubmittedFire crews on standby next to Fairlands Way. Picture: Submitted (Image: Archant)

Detective Sergeant Bianca Broadbent, from the local crime unit in Stevenage, said: “We are now treating this incident as a hoax. In today’s climate of heightened alert around terrorism, people’s concerns were understandably increased.

“The action of this person, or these people, has caused unnecessary concern and worry among those who live and work in Stevenage. We are doing all we can to trace the individual or individuals who intentionally placed the device in such a public area to cause alarm and distress.”

She added: “We would like to thank the public and local commerce in Stevenage for their support while we and the EOD took action at the scene. The person who made the initial call to us did exactly the right thing in the circumstances and we would urge people to remain vigilant, reporting any concerns via 101. If there is immediate danger to life, always call 999.

“We are now appealing for any information that could assist us with our investigation. Were you in the area early this morning, before 8.45am? Did you see anyone acting suspiciously, or leaving the area quickly?

“If you were parked in the area and have a motion-sensor dash-cam in your vehicle, you may have captured the offender(s) in the locality so we would be very keen to see any footage you may have. If you have any information at all, however insignificant it may seem, please dial 101 and quote ISR 124 of September 27 – you may have vital evidence.”

If you have any information about this incident you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through the charity’s anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will never need to go to court.