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Investigation & Surveillance

Major Terror Alert on the M6 Motorway as Armed Police Raid a Coach in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympics.

The UK is currently on a heightened state of alert in the lead up to the Olympic Games leading to the closure of the M6 motorway in a daring Police raid.  The incident occurred on the 5th July causing long tailbacks on one of the country’s busiest roads.

48 passengers were en-route from Preston to London using the Megabus service when armed police swooped on the coach and shut down the motorway.

The passengers were led from the coach and made to sit apart in a cordoned off area opposite the carriageway.

Police said they had received a “genuine report” of vapour escaping from a bag.

One of the passengers had spotted a man craftily smoking an electronic cigarette into a bag and mistook it for a terrorist threat.

Military personnel, armed officers, firefighters and bomb disposal experts were all at the scene.  A decontamination unit was set up and officers searched passengers one by one.

During the search and investigation the force said they found one passenger had an electronic cigarette that produced a visible vapour.

The passenger had been inhaling the e-cigarette device, which emits water vapour and is legal to smoke on board a vehicle, but instead covered it with a bag so those around were not able to see what he was doing.

The motorway was shut in both directions between Junctions 3 and 4 at Weeford Park Plaza, near Lichfield.

The M6 Toll road was shut for approximately 6 hours North bound and 7 hours South bound.

Drivers and passengers stuck in their cars stopped on the M6 Toll road were unaware of the cause as no information was provided as to what had happened began getting out of their cars.

Police Officer’s told them to get back into their vehicles, and to keep the windows closed and the air conditioning off which caused even more concern as although the Military and Emergency Services conduct exercises of this nature, members of the general public do not.

Once the all clear had been given the vehicles were then led from the scene.

A police spokesperson said: “ We can now confirm that, whilst this was a genuine security alert, the significant concerns reported to us were unfounded.

“The information received, concerned a report of vapour escaping from a bag which on investigation turned out to be a health improvement aid for smokers,” a Police spokeswoman said.

The enormity of the operation meant that although the cause of the alert was quickly established, police had to confirm the story before packing away all the equipment and clearing the road.

With the London 2012 Olympic games considered an attractive target for terrorists, starting later this month, Police have urged the general public to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity.