Tyne & Wear

Gateshead MetroCentre used for anti-terror exercise

MetroCentre anti-terror exercise Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Armed police spent the early hours of Thursday conducting the exercise

Armed police have held an anti-terror training exercise at one of Europe's biggest shopping centres on Tyneside.

Northumbria Police tested firearms skills when the intu MetroCentre in Gateshead was closed early on Thursday.

The operation, which was not staged in response to any specific threat, also involved other emergency services and the local council.

The area around the shopping centre was tightly controlled and police said there was no impact on the public.

Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Northumbria Police stressed there was no specific terrorist threat

Ass Ch Con Darren Best said: "The national terror threat remains at severe, but recent events across the continent and in the country show that we need to ensure we are prepared in the event that something does happen in our region.

"It is important that we continue to test our emergency response procedures to ensure the safety of our local communities."

Simon Swallow, head of resilience at North East Ambulance Service, said: "This was a great opportunity to test how we all work together in a major incident and without intu we couldn't have created as realistic a scenario to work with."

Image copyright intu
Image caption The MetroCentre employs more than 7,000 people

Gavin Prior, general manager intu MetroCentre, said: "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 was closed."

The complex, which adjoins the A1(M) in Gateshead, is the largest covered shopping centre in Europe and employs more than 7,000 staff.

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