Police scrambled after bomb threats at Sunderland school

Thornhill School. Picture c/o Google Images.
Thornhill School. Picture c/o Google Images.

Counter terrorism officers are investigating after bomb threats at two North East schools.

Northumbria Police arrived at Thornhill School, in Sunderland this morning where officers searched buildings - but said the calls were being treated as a hoax.

Byker Primary School in Newcastle was also the target of similar threats.

The calls are the latest in a series which have closed schools up and down the country, including one in Alnwick, Northumberland on Tuesday.

A police spokesman said: “Nationally there has been a high volume of schools that have received hoax bomb threats. Two schools in the area have had police at the scene.

“At this time we believe there is no cause for concern and it is being treated as a hoax,

“We take hoaxes extremely seriously. They divert police resources and cause disruption and alarm to the public.

“Anyone with any information should contact police quoting reference number 371 270516,”

Parent Elaine Miller, 41, whose 11-year-old son goes to the school said she felt "instant panic" when she received a text message at 1.25pm, informing her what had happened.

"It had said not to be alarmed by it, but obviously the children were in school, there is a threat or a hoax or whatever, and it's not a nice feeling," she said.

"It was instant panic. I went straight over to the school and picked up my son.

"I'm not sure who took who home I just wanted my son out. The phones were going crazy. Staff were running all over the place. They said it was probably a hoax.

She added: "My son has a 100% attendance record, he's never had a day off sick at all, but it was the sake of half a day of school.

"With terrorist attacks happening throughout the world, if there is any possibility for that to happen, I want my son out of there."

Katharine Monte, head of school at Thornhill School, Business and Enterprise College, said: “The safety and well-being of our pupils and staff is always our paramount concern. As soon as we received this call, we contacted community safety partners including the police to make them aware of the situation and seek advice on the appropriate course of action.

“All protocols were followed including a full search of the school premises, and a decision taken not to evacuate and cause undue alarm.

“All parents were notified on the school website that Thornhill is one of a number of schools across the country to have received a malicious hoax call of this nature.”

The South West Counter Terrorism unit is leading on an investigation into the linked alerts.

A spokesman for the unit said: "Several police forces are investigating a series of malicious hoax communications to schools across the country.

“At this stage there is no information to suggest the incidents are terrorist-related, however the SWCTIU are coordinating the approach to establish the facts.

“Forces continue to work together to investigate who is responsible and whether incidents are linked.

“As this point there is nothing to link these with a spate of similar calls earlier this year but this has not been ruled out.

“Police take hoaxes extremely seriously. They divert police resources and cause disruption and alarm to the public.”