everal schools in a North Yorkshire town were forced into lockdown on Thursday afternoon after a report of a man with a weapon.
Armed officers swooped in Malton shortly before midday after a member of the public raised the alarm about a man “acting suspiciously” close by.
The incident was stood down after a search, with officers stressing there was “no heightened threat to the public or schools in the area”.
A National Police Air Service helicopter was also deployed. According to the York Press, five schools in the area activated lockdown procedures over the incident.
Police said a man had been reported with a weapon, possibly an encased shotgun, in the area, prompting the scare.
Neighbourhood Sergeant Paul Gibson-Hodges, said: “We completely understand the worry and panic this incident has caused, nothing upsets us more than thinking children are at risk and we now know this is not the case.
“A man was seen with a weapon, possibly an encased shotgun, by a member of the public adjacent a school in the town. Further investigation has suggested the man left the area and headed towards a rural location away from people and property.
“At no point has the man spoken to anyone or made any suggestion anyone was at risk.
“The schools should be praised for their quick-thinking to protect their pupils and staff from potential harm.
“However, we execute query that members of the public refrain from speculating about this incident as this is likely to cause more distress to the children in the area.”
The schools lifted lockdown procedures at around 12.30pm.
North Yorkshire Police told local residents that a number of officers would be posted outside local schools on Thursday afternoon to reassure parents and students.
Parents were advised to collect their children as normal.