back to article Northants cops blow up suspicious school play prop

Northamptonshire Police have advised anyone disposing of school play props to do so "responsibly", after a discarded piece of theatrical material caused a major bomb alert. According to the plods' own report, a "suspicious package" found this morning in Kingsthorpe was later downgraded to unsuspicious status, but not before it …


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  1. petur

    The terrorists have won again

    and will again and again, while the crowds turn paranoid....

  2. Mark Scorah

    let me guess

    it was a box that said "bomb" on it

    1. Jeremy 2

      Either that...

      ...or A.C.M.E.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        Yeah - I grew up on roadrunner cartoons too..

        Thanks for the reminder - genuinely funny :-)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    pic of the prop or I'll assume it was a round black ball with a piece of string and the word BOMB stencilled on it.

    1. frank ly

      I have a sad feeling.....

      .... that it was exactly that.

      In later news, a 13 year old boy has been charged with the manufacture of terrorist devices.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Here you go

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: pic

      Meanwhile, police have arrested a man wearing a striped shirt and carrying a bag with "SWAG" written on it. Releasing the man later, officers said that the man was an actor on his way home from a film shoot and that "actors should consider getting changed after work instead of confusing police officers".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: pic

        I find your comment incredulous, the police wouldn't recognize a criminal if he bit them on the leg and introduced himself.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        @ A/C 15:38

        No, they arrested his mate who was wearing a black balaclava with the word 'EVIL' printed on the front.

    4. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


      I heard that they'd used a sparkler instead of string - proper FX :)

  4. Anonymous Coward


    What did this prop look like? Are any pictures available?

    It wasn't a cartoon style bomb by any chance, was it?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Maybe this should also be a lesson for the police to not get so worked up over something.

    Terrorists wanted to bomb kingsthorpe? really?

    I fully expect members of Anonymous to begin a campaign of terror by leaving "suspicious packages" (read, empty boxes with "I'm a big scary bomb" printed on the side) in random locations across the UK.

    Why bother wasting time, resources and the potential for raising the suspicions of the UK anti-terror forces by trying to aquire/manufacture explosives when a little bit of art skill and careful depositing of the object can achieve the same level of blind fear and over reaction?

    Too many people blindly follow procedures to the letter without engaging their brain and thinking "do I really need to do this or is there another way?", from these idiots who prolly get a thrill out of yelling down the radio "I need a bomb squad now now now" to morons who insist on demanding proof of age to buy alcohol when the person is 70 years old (Happened in a Morrisons apparently).

    I know there's a whole "better to be safe than sorry" element, but surely there's something to be said for getting a job done with a minimum of hassle, fuss and expenditure.

    1. 100113.1537
      Big Brother


      The Met Commissioner was just taken to task for suggesting that the emergency services shouldn't be forced to follow the same health and safety rules after criticism of the 7/7 bomb response. The Police Federation (cops union?) were screaming about safety on the job when the inquiry was criticizing the slow response time of actually getting people into the Underground to deal with casualties.

      In NZ there was similar critizism after a mining accident when rescue crews were denied access by the police. The "better safe than sorry" argument is getting a bit of a battering just now.

      [Big Brother - obviously]

      1. sam 16


        It's typical terrorist practice to anticipate emergency service response to an attack, and blow that up too.

        In the past, several groups have guessed what hospital the casualties would be taken to and bombed the busy emergency department.

        As there were several near simultaneous explosions around the city, expecting an attack on rescuers was basically sensible. This might have included blowing up the hospital, the evacuation route, or just setting a secondary bomb to explode half an hour after the first one.

        When it comes down to it though, it's about risk. A firefighter needs to enter a burning building to search for casualties (10% chance of finding one who lives say). At what level of totally guessed risk do you not ask him to enter the building? 10% chance of him also dieing? Seems a tough ask...

        1. kissingthecarpet

          Secondary bomb a little later, yes

          But "In the past, several groups have guessed what hospital the casualties would be taken to and bombed the busy emergency department."

          Who? When? I don't remember that.

      2. kissingthecarpet

        Nothing to do

        with "Health & Safety". At all. As someone pointed out, its the following of moronic procedures in a moronic way that does it. You point is a good one, but "better safe than sorry" is your Mum's idea of H&S. Health & Safety is a good thing - the laws stop employers risking their employees lives for the sake of profit - eg guards on dangerous machinery etc. I think the HSE get very upset about nonsense like this being conflated with their function.

        The Filth's behaviour was less "Big Brother", more "Scared Little Brother", really

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      When you've got it you're just itching to use it

      > Maybe this should also be a lesson for the police to not get so worked up over something.

      But, but, but ... they've got all this cop stuff. Dogs and helos and anti-terrrrist units and robots and sniffer-thingies and emergency units and training and ... and ... if they never get to use it WHAT'S THE POINT?

      Which would you rather: spend all day trying to make writing that single-page report last until knocking-off time, or being able to pretend you were Bruce Willis and you were saving the world from Dick Dastardly? Being able to strut around and shout orders and impose the overwhelming might of your will on all the local squirrels and pigeons must be better fun than trying to think of another word for "suspect".

      And as far as using common sense goes. Well yes, you or I might think that (and everybody else in the country too, for that matter) but really, we have no say whatsoever. From a cop perspective, would you prefer to not get yelled at by your boss for not following the rules to the letter or NOT inconvenience hundreds or thousands of inhabitants, who just want to get home/to work/away from the place? Since they are not answerable to any of us, ordinary people in any way shape or form there is little prospect (short of elected chef constables - you know: the police who wear big white hats) that they would ever feel the need to consider our comfort, convenience or expense - especially when there just might be a bit of excitement to be had.

      1. kissingthecarpet

        Big White Hats?

        What, Bishops or the pope?

  6. Peter Kay


    Still, this brings to mind the Doctor Who episode Remembrance of the Daleks

    Amongst other things this features the rather fun Heavy Weapons Dalek - basically a squat Dalek with

    a BFO gun on it which was used to destroy a reinforced iron gate.

    The explosion was suitably impressive.

    Unfortunately whilst filming this the Beeb forget to tell

    anyone they'd be blowing up part of London and caused a

    major terrorrism alert. Ooops.

  7. Velv

    Cartoon Bomb?

    As funny as the assumption is that it was a cartoon style bomb, I'm still left wondering just what play the school was producing that required such a prop?

    (grenade icon - for obvious reasons)

  8. Phil Endecott

    Sat Nav

    This reminds me - was there no Reg coverage of the blokes whose sat nav directed them into the main entrance to Sellafield recently, or did I miss it?

    Unluckily for them, they were "of Bangladeshi origin". Duff sat nav has resulted in some unfortunate incidents in the past, but perhaps none quite as nasty as having your homes searched and undergoing an "interview" by the terror plods.

  9. Colin Brett

    Previously on 24 ...

    " ... this incidents has resulted in the use of extensive resources, including police, fire and rescue, ambulance, regional Counter Terrorism Unit, emergency planning, and Highways."

    Northants plod has its own CTU? Call Jack Bauer!


    Grenade ... obviously

  10. 4HiMarks

    On the other hand

    A security guard recently found an apparently lost toolbox outside a Federal building in Detroit. He brought it inside and placed it in the lost and found. Two week later someone decided to X-ray it and discovered that it WAS a bomb. All security guards were subsequently required to take a refresher course on handling of "suspicious packages".

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Back in my day,

      we had propoer terrorism, like that practiced by the IRA, where they would phone up the police in advance of a bombing. Can't we persuade the jihadists to op for that?

      I'm pretty sure it eliminated street crime, and allowed little old ladies to leave their doors unlocked, too.

    2. kissingthecarpet

      It wasn't a bomb

      It was apparently bits of a bomb, not a live device. The FBI aren't referring to it as a bomb.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    If you think this is bad...

    Just wait until you hear what the Royal Navy did to the local community theater's set for "The Pirates of Penzance".

  12. Anonymous Coward

    For all those asking

    It was a wise man from the school nativity play.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the problem

    The emergency services have just had a true to life simulation where they weren't sitting on their butts staring at their watches waiting for an arranged one to begin with the added benefit of it not costing anything to set up.

    Maybe it's our duty to leave suspicious packages about to keep them on their toes.

    As for the real cost. The respondents would have been paid their usual salary whether they where attending this emergency or having a cuppa back at the station so I guess the cost is that when they get back their tea will be cold and they'll have to buy another.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Maybe it's our duty... leave suspicious packages about to keep them on their toes."

      The only shortcoming of this idea is the lack of an official publicly-released definition of what constitutes a suspicious package. Lacking such, how would one know what the authorities would regard as a suspicious package? One could waste much time and effort, leaving various and sundry parcels around which would be ignored.

      The obvious solution is to tag them. For instance, one could place a pair of stinky athletic shoes in a shoe box and scrawl


      on the side and leave it outside an office building or a shopping mall.

      Or what about this? Any container, even an empty one, with Arabic writing on the side would be certain to arouse suspicion.

      One caveat: Given how ubiquitous video surveillance is, one might want to wear a disguise, regardless of what a drag that might be.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        > One caveat: Given how ubiquitous video surveillance is, one might want to wear a disguise, regardless of what a drag that might be.

        A drag you say? Just what sort of a disguise did you have in mind?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And the cost of inconveniencing the people and businesses in the area? The supplies used in finding out the bomb was mere cardboard?

      Sure, the services involved would have been paid regardless but there are more costs than just their wages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: title

        >And the cost of inconveniencing the people and businesses in the area?

        Sorry, I missed that benefit. Rile the locals so there is an uprising against the over-reaction to every perceived terrorist threat.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Oh FFS...

    Plod needs to get a brain and have it installed.

    PS: Why wasn't this story handed over to Lewis Page, our resident bomb-disposal expert? A missed opportunity in my opinion.

    PS2: Hey plod! .......BANG!! Ha ha, gotcha.

    1. Mark Aggleton

      I thought

      the second PS was PPS.

  15. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @let me guess

    So in future if you throw away anything - you have to write "not a bomb" on it

    1. Lockwood

      Missed a bit

      You need ", honest!" at the end of it.

    2. kain preacher


      the cops will immediately think it's a real bomb trying to be disguised . At such time you will be detained, beaten and water boarded till you voluntary give a confession and give up the rest of your terror cell.

  16. Magnus Ramage

    I know that area!

    I often drive past that area of Northampton. It's a very ordinary ex-council estate, neither especially salubrious nor especially down-at-heel. Hardly a seething pit of terrorism. Good thing it wasn't a couple of hundred metres further into Kingsthorpe, where there's been permanent roadworks for years and traffic grinds to a halt for any excuse.

    Agree about the bonkersness of the response. OTOH, if it had been a real bomb disguised as a fake bomb and they'd not blown it up, you can imagine the media reaction. Either way, the police can't win with this kind of thing.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    The bomb

    It was black,

    It was round,

    It did have the word bomb in white lettering on it,

    It did take the Police 3 hours to recognise it was a prop.

    Huge credit to the local 6 and 7 years olds for making such a convincing prop!

    The local plod I spoke to said that it was very obvious it was not a real bomb almost instantly, but procedures had to be followed.

  18. TRT Silver badge

    Just don't...

    If it was a cardboard box with the word 'BOMB' on it, just be very, very careful how you pack the school tortoise away this winter.

  19. elderlybloke

    Even in New Zealand

    We are super cautious nowdays.

    I went into my Bank and filled in a form before joining the line for the cashier. After almost a minute an alert female staff member came across and asked if that was my briefcase at the form filling place.

    I pleaded guilty of forgetting to pick it up.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    This explains a lot

    I used to get pulled over in my car a lot.

    Reg: IED 647

    I was a bomb as well.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Wait... wasn't there also a case...

    Didn't crack English anti-terrorism-forces also, once, blow-up a "suspicious" cardboard box... that actually turned-out to be full of kittens..?

    I wonder what they'd do if a mysterious container had "DANGER: NUCLEAR MATERIALS', warning-labels on it... go ahead and blow it up... I suppose.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    I should have thought of that

    So in future if you throw away anything - you have to write "not a bomb" on it

    If you really want your dummy package to look suspicious, write


    on it.

    Preferably in Arabic!

  23. Nick Kew

    Reminds me of ...

    Foreign cooking sparks chemical weapon alert:

    (article found through googling; no paywall).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They bomb us because they want us to be afraid.

    And how do our we fight this? By being scared of our own shadows.

    I refuse to hide under my bed.

  25. Suburban Inmate

    Similar thing happened to me.

    The key differences being it was a black box behind the driver's seat of a van, wired up to the dash, at Belfast Airport.

    It was my Vibe subwoofer, but that was hardly obvious from the outside.

    I did wonder why the place was absolutely crawling with machine gun toting coppers and ARU Land Rovers. I was later told they also, naturally, had the controlled explosion lads on standby.

    Still, it was a laugh!

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