This multi-agency exercise aims to test and evaluate the emergency services response to a major terrorist incident and has been in the planning since December 2015.
Taking place over three days, the exercise will begin at midnight tonight, Monday 9 May 2016 at intu Trafford Centre and will involve the emergency services, including Greater Manchester Police, Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service.
Police officers will be deployed in the staged exercise, codenamed Exercise Winchester Accord.
The exercise at intu Trafford Centre will take place whilst the centre is closed to the public, from midnight until 6am.
Over the following two days the exercise will continue in locations in the North West, including Redbank Community Home, in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside on Wednesday 11 May 2016.
Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe said:
“This exercise is part of a national programme that has been planned extensively for five months.
We have worked closely with intu Trafford centre and other emergency services to test our response to a major terrorist incident in a public place, which for part of this exercise is a shopping centre.
Residents in the area may hear loud noises and see emergency services activity around intu Trafford Centre during the exercise and I can reassure people that there is no cause for concern. However, I would still urge people to contact police if they do have any concerns or want to report anything and are not sure if it is linked to the exercise.
Our priority is to stop terrorists from planning and orchestrating attacks and with exercises like this, we can put our response to the test in a safe environment, so we are fully prepared for a time when it may be critical.
I want to make it clear that this is not linked to any specific terror threat or attack, but is an opportunity for us to make sure we are in the best position possible, should a terrorist attack happen in the North West.
This exercise has allowed us to build and strengthen our relationship with intu Trafford Centre and I would like to thank them for allowing all the participants to use their centre. Their support in the planning of this exercise demonstrates their commitment to test their response to a major incident and protect their staff and customers.”
Richard Paxton, General Manager of intu Trafford Centre said:
“The police and emergency services do an extremely important job keeping the public safe. This training, planning and preparation to deal with all eventualities is essential and we had no hesitation allowing them to use our facilities for their exercise while the centre is closed.”
Any suspicious activity or behaviour can be reported to police via the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline by calling 0800 789 321. Extremist or terrorist content online can also be reported here.
[Image and content courtesy of GMP]