COUNTER terrorism police have arrested a Basingstoke man on suspicion of explosives and firearms offences as officers search a flat in Rooksdown.

A 25-year-old man from Basingstoke was yesterday arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm without a licence, and today was further arrested on suspicion of making or possessing explosives and on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs.

Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) is leading the investigation, and the man remains in custody.

Police officers and bomb disposal experts are searching a block of flats in Rooksdown in connection with the incident.

The block on Penny Black Lane has been cordoned off with officers standing guard this evening.

But police said there is no wider threat to the public.

Chief Inspector Matthew Reeves, District Commander for Basingstoke and Deane, said: “I understand that this is a worrying time in the local community, thankfully incidents of this nature are relatively rare.

“We are assisting our colleagues at Counter Terrorism Policing South East and our partner agencies to address any concerns you may have.

“You may notice an increased police presence, please don’t be alarmed, officers are involved in the investigation and are there to assist and support. Please approach these officers if you have any concerns or questions.

“This is an active investigation so please refrain from speculation, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their support so far with this investigation.”

Rooksdown councillor and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's deputy leader Simon Bound said: "As always I would like to thank the police and the army for taking every precaution to keeping Rooksdown residents safe.

"After a few tense hours it is good to know the incident has passed and everyone is safe and those evacuated from the block can return home."

Earlier, Cllr Bound had told the Gazette that the community stands ready to help: “I think the same applies as the last time that we had the bomb disposal team in Rooksdown - it’s really important as residents that we listen to the police’s advice and follow anything they ask us to do, and I know they will be working closely with the army as well."

A spokesperson for the British Army has told The Gazette: "We can confirm that a British Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was called to the scene at the request of Hampshire Constabulary.

"It is an ongoing investigation so we would not be able to compromise anything by commenting further." 

A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: "You may be aware of a large policing presence in Rooksdown.

"We would like to share this press release on behalf of our colleagues at Counter Terrorism Policing South East.

"A 25-year-old man from Basingstoke, Hampshire, was arrested yesterday (8/9) on suspicion of possession of a firearm without a certificate under Section 1 of the firearms act 1968.

"Today (9/9) the man was also arrested on suspicion of making or possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances under the Explosives Act 1883 and on suspicion of possessing class A drugs.

"The investigation is being led by Counter Terrorism Policing South East and the man remains in custody at this time.

"As part of this investigation, searches are being carried out at a property in Penny Black Lane, Basingstoke.

"Specialist officers are carrying out these searches and there is not believed to be a wider threat to the public at this time.

"A number of properties in the immediate vicinity have been evacuated to assist us with our search."