PARTS of the town centre have been closed off tonight for a police-led training exercise.

Involving the ambulance service, fire service and Swindon Borough Council’s emergency response officers, the exercise will simulate a “major incident”. 

Based at the Brunel shopping centre, it is expected to end by 6am tomorrow morning. Wharf Green, Havelock Square and a section of Canal Walk from Regent Street to Wharf Green have been shut for the exercise. The McDonalds restaurant on Wharf Green has also closed early. 

Wiltshire Police are remaining tight-lipped as to the nature of the “incident” – which police warned “could be noisy”.

However, the force’s operations chief, Superintendent Dave Minty, said that the exercise was geared towards preparing the emergency services should the worst happen.

“There is no intelligence that Swindon is at risk,” he told the Swindon Advertiser. “But I hope members of the public understand we need to be ready and prepared for any eventuality.

“This is Wiltshire Police getting ourselves – along with our colleagues in the fire and ambulance services – in the best position so we’re ready for anything.”

More than 40 police officers will be involved in the exercise, with specialist armed officers from Tri-Force among those taking part in the operation – which has taken roughly eight weeks to plan.

He moved to reassure people that these officers were extra to those normally policing Swindon’s streets on a Tuesday night – and the force’s ability to respond would not be impacted by the town centre operation.

Earlier this afternoon, police officers had blocked off the entrance to the Davis Square car park, off Commercial Road, and police incident control vehicles were parked up beside Sainsbury’s.

Senior paramedics from South Western Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) were at the scene earlier today.

For updates on the operation, follow Wiltshire Police on Twitter