Sunderland city centre hoax call investigation wound up - police confirm man released without charge

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A scheduled meeting of the full council had to be postponed.

An investigation into a hoax call which paralysed part of Sunderland city centre for hours has been wound up.

City Hall and nearby buildings were evacuated in October 2022.

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Sunderland City Council said its office had been emptied after what it described as a ‘credible threat’ was received.

St Mary's Way was closedSt Mary's Way was closed
St Mary's Way was closed

A meeting of the Full Council which had been scheduled was also cancelled.

Emergency services, including police and North East Ambulance Service, were on the scene for much of the day and cordons remained in place until late afternoon.

The force dog unit was in attendance and Northumbria Police's Specialist Support team was seen entering City Hall.

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The closure caused problems for workers based in neighbouring offices as well as City Hall customers.

Charlotte Richardson, 35, who worked at contact centre Ocado, near City Hall, arrived for work to see the area sealed off: “The whole road was cordoned off when I arrived for work.

"They were not letting anyone through. There is no timescale at all for when we will be allowed in.

"We have got to go home and just sit and wait for an update.”

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Jason Lawton, 51, from Hetton, had been due to have an appointment with the DWP at City Hall and said: “I want to go to the dole but I just can’t get in.

"A couple of hours, they said, so I’ve just been stood here but it’s longer than that now. I don’t know when I’ll get in.”

A 67-year-old man was arrested at the time in relation to the incident.

But he has since been released with no further action and police have confirmed that the investigation has effectively been wound up, pending any further developments.

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A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “A full investigation was carried out following a report of malicious communications directed towards City Hall on Plater Way, in Sunderland city centre.

“Should we receive any new information in relation to this investigation, we will look into it.”