Government and emergency services exercise tests response to terror attacks

Members of emergency services and major government departments have completed a two-day exercise to see how they would deal with a serious terror attack.

Mar 16, 2023
By PA Media
Picture: PA Media

The ability to stop attacks, save lives and effectively manage a series of surprise violent incidents across different regions were tested during the mock emergency known as the Exercise Spring Resolve.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat described the exercise as being “critical to ensure all agencies and departments are prepared for any type of attack”.

The National Counter-Terrorism Exercise, which was planned and coordinated by the Home Office, was staged on March 14 and 15 at various regional locations.

It involved the British Transport Police, Metropolitan Police Service, North Yorkshire Police, Counter Terrorism Policing North-East, London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

The different agencies each have their own objectives which have to be tested.

This included many which are linked to the recommendations made following the Manchester Arena Inquiry-Volume 2 which called for emergency responders to become more effective and improve how they work together.

Multiple attacks in rapid succession in London were among some of the imagined threats that were tackled by members of the different organisations.

The attacks in London were designed to test fast and effective multi-agency responses, communication and co-ordination. Attack locations included the transport network and other publicly accessible sites.

During this onslaught, the emergency services along with senior government and security officials also had to deal with an imagined attack at a public place close to York city centre on the second day.

This was aimed at testing the effectiveness of the multi-agency response and recovery arrangements.

The Home Office said the plan was to examine communication flows from attack scenes via strategic command centres and directly into central government. Top level meetings were held on both days and government ministers and senior officials were also involved.

The two-day exercise is part of the regular counter-terrorism testing programme which takes place across the UK.

Mr Tugendhat said: “The first duty of government is to protect the British people. Exercises like Spring Resolve are critical to ensure all agencies and departments are prepared for any type of attack.

“I would like to thank all our frontline services for their diligent and brave work to protect and safeguard our country and people in the face of complex threats.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, Counter Terrorism Policing’s senior national coordinator for protect and prepare, said: “We know how vital it is that everyone involved in the response to a terrorist attack is fully prepared so that should the worst happen, together we are able to provide the best possible response.

“Ensuring our plans are fit for purpose will ultimately help save lives and testing them regularly is crucial in ensuring police officers and our partners right across the UK understand their roles.”

Superintendent Jason Dickson, the strategic exercise lead for North Yorkshire Police, said: “We tested the strategic prioritisation and decision-making for the safe and effective deployment of specialist and non-specialist resources to scenes and the early consideration of recovery measures.”

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