Update after Byker incident brought to a safe conclusion

Dated: 09 Jun 2017 12:40 PM

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Police want to thank the public for their patience following an incident in Byker this morning.

At around 8am this morning (Friday) police received a report that a man had entered the Job Centre Plus on Clifford Street armed with a knife.

It was also reported to police that the man may have had an explosive device strapped to his chest and had taken hostages. This device was later found to be fake.

Officers responded to the incident in just nine minutes and quickly identified a cordon around the premises and began negotiating with the 28-year-old man.

Police cordons were put in place, some surrounding roads were closed and Byker Metro station was also shut down as a precaution. Nearby buildings were also evacuated.

From very early on it was identified as an isolated incident and there was never any information or itnelligence to suggest this was a terror related incident.

The man in question was known to the Job Centre Plus staff and engaged with police from early on in the incident.

All of the people he held in the building were released by 8.30am before the man surrendered to police at 11.15am. It was at this point that police found the potential explosive device to be fake.

Searches of the building and of other properties in the area will continue today. The man has been arrested for threats to kill and remains in police custody at this time.

Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best has now paid tribute to the officers who responded to the incident this morning.

He said: "In recent weeks we have heard many positive stories about the police and how quickly they have responded to some of the atrocities we have witnessed in London and Manchester.

"When we first received the call this morning there were very real concerns that this individual could have caused serious harm and to be on the scene in a matter of minutes is a fantastic response.

"It must have been particularly traumatising for those staff members who were kept inside the premises but we were able to secure their release within just half an hour of arriving on scene.

"Our specialist negotiators engaged with the man very early on and their efforts are one of the main reasons that this incident was brought to a safe conclusion and that nobody was injured.

"We know that this would have been a very concerning incident for members of the public, particularly in light of events over the past few weeks, and we want to thank the public for their patience.

"This was never being treated as a terrorist incident and the public shoudl be reassured that there is still no specific threat of terrorism in our force area.

"However, this response shows just how quickly we can respond in a major incident and just how hostile an environment this region is for any would-be terrorists.

"A full investigation will take place and there will be further activity in the area throughout the day however we want to thank the people of Newcastle for working with us today."

Byker Metro station has been re-opened since the incident and all the road closures have been lifted. Those evacuated have also been allowed back in their respective buildings.

Anyone who wants to report any information to police that may help their investigation can call officers on 101 quoting log 176 09/07/17 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.