Terrorism exercise under way

The cross border counter terrorism exercise was a year in the planning.
The cross border counter terrorism exercise was a year in the planning.

A major counter-terrorism exercise has been taking place in eastern Scotland and Northumberland over the past three days involving emergency services, both governments and other agencies.

Exercise Border Reiver is part of the Home Office’s national counter-terrorism exercise programme to allow the emergency services to practise, prepare and plan their responses to a range of potential terrorist incidents.

This week’s exercise began with a vehicle attack at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters at Gogarburn, near Edinburgh, on Tuesday and continued at sites and individual properties across Scotland and north east England through to today.

No members of the general public have been involved and the exercise areas have been cordoned off and tightly controlled to minimise disruption.

However, it was accepted that some noise would travel outside of the cordoned areas, and Police Scotland and Northumbria Police took steps to inform people in local residential and business communities what to expect.

Police Scotland, Northumbria Police, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service, North East Ambulance Service, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue services, Transport Scotland, NHS Scotland, NHS England and the Ministry of Defence are among those taking part in the exercise, as are Scottish and UK Government ministers and officials. City of Edinburgh, Angus and Northumberland County councils are also testing their responses to a terrorist incident.

Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, chaired a COBR meeting as part of the exercise, involving ministers from both the UK and Scottish Governments.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins from Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland and other police forces throughout Britain regularly assess and exercise their counter terrorism resources and capabilities to ensure we can respond appropriately to any incidents, which may arise.

“Exercise Border Reiver is the culmination of months of planning with partner agencies from across the UK and the scenario over the three days is a realistic, challenging and complex set of circumstances that could arise during a terrorist incident.

“In addition to uniformed officers, a range of specialist Police Scotland resources have been in play for the exercise and this resulted in some significant activity within the public domain. Please rest assured this all forms part of the live-play scenario and there is no risk to the public.

“The public should be reassured that we are constantly testing and exercising our plans along with our partners. Police Scotland is committed to ensuring that Scotland is capable of responding to the terror threat that faces the UK.”

Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best of Northumbria Police, said: “This exercise has been organised to test the response of the emergency services and other partner agencies to a cross-border incident. It is in no way linked to a specific or increased threat in our region.

“We regularly carry out exercises to test contingency plans and the co-ordination of the response to a major incident to ensure we are prepared to keep our communities safe.

“We want to reassure people the exercise will not affect day to day policing and emergency service response which will continue as usual throughout the exercise.”

The public should continue to report any concerns they have or if they see any suspicious activity by dialling 101 or 999 in an emergency. Anonymous reports can be made to the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.