A major national counter-terrorism exercise spanning the North East of England and Scotland has taken place. Northumbria Police and Police Scotland worked with the Home Office and other emergency response agencies to plan the exercise, but the Force is keen to stress that the exercise was not in response to any specific threat to the region.
The recently-staged three-day exercise was designed to test the skills and processes of two cross-border police forces, other emergency services and partners including local authorities, to deal with a major terrorist incident.
Hundreds of personnel played a role across Northumbria and Scotland from both police forces, other emergency services and partner organisations during the exercise.
Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best, of Northumbria Police, said:
“This large-scale exercise has demonstrated the strong working relationship between partners including Police Scotland, Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service, Tyne and Wear Fire & Rescue Service, the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) – including their Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), NHS England CNE, Public Health England, the MOD, Newcastle City Council, Sunderland City Council, Gateshead Council, North Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Council, Tyne and Wear Strategic Coordinating Group and Northumbria Local Resilience Forum members.
A huge amount of work and preparation has gone into this exercise during the year-long planning stage and I want to thank all those involved for their expertise and support.
This latest counter-terrorism exercise has enabled us to further cement our positive working relationships with our many partners and will help us to continue to inform our planning and responses to any actual incidents.
It is essential that we continue to rehearse, prepare for and test our contingency plans in response to the threat of terrorism.
The national terror threat remains at Severe and recent events in the UK show that we must ensure we are prepared in the event that something does happen in our region.
This means we must robustly test our emergency-response procedures and our inter-agency working to enhance our capabilities to maximise the safety of our local communities.”
Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Paul Hedley said:
“This was a major exercise for both the council and the fire services, both in terms of testing our plans and procedures and giving staff the opportunity to test their skills in a very different environment than they are used to.
The exercise has shown how numerous agencies can work together on large-scale incidents to protect and support communities across our region.”
Andy Sessford, from the NEAS Resilience Team, added:
“This was an excellent opportunity for NEAS to work alongside our colleagues from the Scottish Ambulance Service and integrate our skills whilst providing mutual aid at a large scale cross-border national exercise.
It has also allowed us put into practice our local emergency plans with Northumbria Police, Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service and our local-authority partners.
This further allowed us to test our response to an incident of this type providing a high level clinical treatment to large numbers of potential casualties and transportation to our local NHS facilities.”