Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Police Scotland and Northumbria Police test terrorism response

Reiver exercise Image copyright PA
Image caption Police officers responding to a scenario simulating a vehicle attack held in the grounds of the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters at Gogarburn in Edinburgh

Police forces in Scotland and England have begun a three-day counter-terrorism exercise to test the responses of the emergency services to a cross-border incident.

The "live-play scenario" started with a simulated vehicle attack at the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters at Gogarburn on Tuesday.

It also will involve sites across the Lothians and Northumberland.

The public may notice increased noise and emergency services activity.

The exercise is not in response to any specific threat.

Image copyright PA

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, will chair a COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) meeting as part of the exercise, involving ministers from both the UK and Scottish governments.

The Scottish government resilience room has also been stood up to provide Scottish ministers with updates during the exercise.

Named, Border Reiver, the exercise has taken more than a year of planning and is part of a series of similar operations aimed at giving the emergency services, governments and other agencies practice for terrorist incidents.

Members of the public will not be involved and the exercise areas are cordoned-off.

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA

UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd said: "The events of this year have shown why it is vital that the emergency services, government and agencies prepare and rehearse our response to potential terrorist attacks.

"The professionalism with which front-line services dealt with the atrocities in London and Manchester is in part due to the planning and practice that goes into exercises like this.

"I will chair a meeting of COBR as part of the exercise and working with colleagues in both the UK and Scottish governments as we test our plans to keep families and communities across the UK safe."

Scotland's Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Scotland has a key role to play in hosting this exercise, alongside the UK government and other agencies.

"It provides an opportunity to test our response in Scotland and the readiness of our emergency services to deal with this kind of incident.

"While fortunately such real life incidents are rare, the public can be assured that government, our blue-light services and other agencies are continuously testing and reviewing how we are best able to respond to an attack should it happen."

Image copyright PA

Police Scotland said some noise may travel outside of the cordoned areas, which should not cause alarm. The exercise will not affect day-to-day policing or emergency service responses.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins, of 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.

"In addition to uniformed officers, a range of specialist Police Scotland resources will be in play for the exercise and this will result 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."

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."

Other bodies involved in the exercise include 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, the Ministry of Defence and officials from the Scottish and UK governments.

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