A man has been arrested over the bomb scare at Festival Place on Friday, the Gazette can reveal. 

The 20-year-old was arrested after the Basingstoke shopping centre was shut down for three hours amid fears of an explosive device. 

Bomb disposal experts and sniffer dogs scoured the area while businesses were forced to shut down as a result of the incident, which later was discovered to be a hoax.

The Gazette has contacted Festival Place for an estimate of how much the hoax cost local businesses. 

Basingstoke Gazette:

Today Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed a 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident. 

A spokesman said: "A 20-year-old man, from Basingstoke, was arrested on suspicion of a bomb hoax – placing an article with intent.

"He has been released from custody but remains under investigation as our enquiries continue." 

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Hampshire Constabulary were called to Festival Place at around 3pm on Friday when shoppers were asked to leave the site while a 100-metre cordon was established.

Surrounding car parks, including Festival Place and the Malls, were closed while emergency services dealt with the incident.

After a three-hour investigation, bomb disposal experts found that the device wasn't "a danger to the public".

A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: "We were called just after 3pm on Friday to a report of a suspicious package being found in a toilet at Festival Place, Basingstoke.

"Officers attended and put in place a 100 metre cordon.

"The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called in and safely recovered the item, which was assessed as not being a danger to the public  

"This was a multi-agency response to safeguard the public and we are grateful for people’s patience this afternoon.

"The cordon was lifted as soon as possible."

The shopping centre was re-opened to the public just at around 6.30pm, after three hours.

Shops were forced to close and people had to leave the centre, with swimmers at the Basingstoke Sports Centre spotted outside with foil blankets and no shoes.

Sniffer dogs were spotted at the scene shortly before the cordon was extended from 100 metres to cover the whole of Festival Place.