Armed police were sent to the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham this afternoon after a security alert was sparked by a tip off from a member of the public.
Scores of shoppers took to Twitter to report a heavy police presence outside the shopping centre and West Midlands Police confirmed armed officers had been dispatched. The shopping centre remained open as a force helicopter circled overhead, while police vans and cars were parked near the iconic Bull statue.
West Midlands Police released a statement saying the operation had been undertaken as a precaution following 'specific intelligence'.
The statement, released at around 6pm more than two hours after police flooded the area surrounding the Bullring, said: "West Midlands Police increased patrols in Birmingham city centre this afternoon following information received from a member of the public.
"Public safety is our first priority and we responded following specific intelligence; enquiries are ongoing.
"The increased presence has been undertaken as a precaution, and continues. Local officers on the ground are being supported by armed officers and colleagues from the National Police Air Service.
"We are working closely with Bullring management, local partners and Birmingham City Council. Bullring and the city centre are open for business as usual."
Initial reports came in at around 3.30pm. Normal patrols resumed at 8pm but an investigation continues, police chiefs said.