Armed police respond to terror alert as gunmen take over Northampton building... but don't panic, it wasn't real

Emergency services use ex-Unviersity campus block as test of capability to tackle major incident

By Kevin Nicholls
Friday, 10th December 2021, 11:04 am

Armed police, paramedics and firefighters rushed to the scene of a terror incident as gunmen took over a Northampton building. But, don't panic! It was all part of a training exercise to test emergency services' response to a potential attack.

Role-players posing as armed individuals entered the disused University of Northampton campus in St George’s Avenue with weapons.

'Casualties' were treated by paramedics while armed police worked to neutralise the treat.

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Armed police pin down the 'terrorists' during the exercise in Northampton

Northants Police lead, Inspector Ellie Baird, explained the 'attack' was key to testing the services’ communication during any heightened incident.

She said: “This exercise has been months in the planning and gives each agency the chance to test exactly how we would respond in a situation like this.

“We have a very positive relationship with all of our blue light colleagues and this exercise has only served to strengthen those ties.

“Whilst we hope that we never have to use this training in a real scenario and whilst this exercise was not conducted in response to any specific threat to the county, it’s important for all of us to feel prepared and ready so we are able to respond well should an incident of this nature happen.

Emergency services responded to the 'fake' terror alert at the former University building

“I’d like to thank the local resilience forum for providing us with volunteers for the day and everyone else who made this event happen – your support is really appreciated.”

Phil Pells, area commander at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This exercise was critical in testing our response to high threat and high harm incidents.

"It’s vital in these kinds of incidents that the emergency response is co-ordinated and this exercise formed part of a wider programme of multi-agency training and testing that helps ensure we can keep Northamptonshire residents as safe as possible.”

Keith Sharpe, resilience manager at East Midlands Ambulance Service said: “Exercises such as this play a vital part in ensuring our crews have the up to date training, skills and capabilities to respond to a situation like this.

"It is incredibly important to take part in them as part of our emergency preparedness, helping to shape multi agency response and also builds on the strong relationships we have with our blue light colleagues.”