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Scottish teenagers charged over international bomb hoaxes that targeted schools

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Three Scottish teenagers have been arrested and charged in connection with a series of bomb threat hoaxes that targeted schools in five countries.

The incidents saw schools in Scotland, England, the USA, Canada and the Netherlands placed on lockdown or evacuated.

More than 80 threats were said to have been made to schools and other premises across the world in December, 2018, and February, 2019.

The callers are alleged to have used an online app to claim there was a bomb at a school or that there was going to be a mass shooting.

The hoaxes, known as ‘swatting’, prompted a joint investigation by police forces in the UK, America and Canada.

It has now led to Police Scotland charging three males, aged 15 to 17, from Dundee, Musselburgh and Glenrothes.

The force said a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal on the teens.

In Canada, nine schools and one bank in Edmonton, together with five schools in Calgary, received hoax phone calls over three days in February.

The incidents led to some pupils being evacuated from schools in –20C weather.

Detective Philip Hawkins, a member of the Edmonton Police Service’s cyber crime investigations unit, which spearheaded the investigation, said: “Calls were made that someone was going to show up at the school and was going to shoot the kids or that there was a bomb in the school that was about to explode.

“The amount of school and police resources these calls take up, not to mention the distress they cause to children, teachers and parents, is unacceptable.

“We left no stone unturned in this lengthy investigation, even across international borders, and three suspects are now facing charges in their home country

“We live in a time where school shootings and bomb threats are a real thing and we have to take precautions.

“It’s sad to see that people would take advantage of that, and to disrupt other peoples’ lives, just to watch the fallout of their pranks on social media.”

A number of other schools were targeted, including ones in Fife, Manchester and Texas.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland has arrested and charged three males, aged 15 to 17, from Dundee, Musselburgh and Glenrothes in connection with hoax threats made to premises in the UK, USA, Canada and Netherlands in December, 2018 and February, 2019.

“The teenagers will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.”

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