Shoppers and staff have been allowed back into The Shires shopping centre in Trowbridge after bomb disposal experts blew up an abandoned suitcase shortly before 3.30pm today.

The controlled explosion was initiated by the Royal Logistics Corps bomb disposal squad based in Tidworth.

They used a bomb disposal robot which entered The Shires and blew the black suitcase up causing slight damage to Halifax store window, near where the bag was left.

The centre was evacuated at 1.50pm not long after Wiltshire Police were told of the suspicious package.

Roads were then cordoned off at the junction of Castle Street and Market Street, Castle Street and Fore Street for pedestrian safety and to stop cars driving through.

The Shires manager John Grinnell said: "We were notified by a member of Halifax of a suitcase that had been left in the corner of the bank.

Our emergency procedures were immediately put into pace and the police were called. The shopping centre was evacuated at about 1.50pm.

"The package was treated as 'suspicious' and once shoppers and centre staff cleared the centre, the police were left to deal with the situation.

"It is not known whether it was just a hoax, or someone had forgotten to pick up the suitcase as they left the bank, but we take all such situations seriously and have an evacuation procedure which was carried out successfully.

"The centre was very busy so credit must go to everyone who helped with the evacuation and to the public for their patience and understanding."

The centre and the roads have since been reopened.