Birmingham's police chief today defended his decision to evacuate some 20,000 people from the city centre last night, insisting there had been a "real and significant" threat to lives.
At a press conference at West Midlands Police headquarters, the Force's Chief Constable Paul Scott-Lee admitted the packages were neither bombs nor hoax explosive devices, but stressed information received by officers had been significant enough to warrant the evacuation.
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In the wake of Thursday's attacks on London, he said, the emergency services had to respond after police received calls from members of the public concerned about discarded items.
He said: "Last night, we took the unusual step of evacuating parts of Birmingham city centre and asked members of the public to go home.
"I can tell you that, bearing in mind the current world climate, the information we received posed a real threat to the lives of people in the city centre."
The public's safety was the top priority, he said, adding: "I believe this threat was significant for me to authorise this evacuation.
"The packages were incidental to the threat we were responding to."
See tomorrow's Birmingham Post for more on this story