POLICE, paramedics and firefighters have swarmed into Swindon's town centre tonight for a massive training exercise - designed to prepare 999 crews for major incidents.

Here's everything you need to know about the exercise: 

  • It started at 9pm and is expected to last until 6am on Wednesday morning.
  • The exercise has taken over the Brunel Centre, with police closing Canal Walk, Havelock Square and Wharf Green.
  • McDonalds, overlooking Wharf Green, was closed early for the training exercise.
  • Wiltshire Police are co-ordinating the exercise, which has brought 40 officers from the force to the town centre - including armed officers from Tri-Force.
  • The exercise also involves officers from South Western Ambulance Service, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Swindon Borough Council.
  • It "could be noisy", Wiltshire Police have warned. Loud banging noises could be heard coming from the area shortly after the exercise began.

Swindon Advertiser:

Superintendent Dave Minty of Wiltshire Police told the Swindon Advertiser that the exercise had taken around two months of planning. 

The major simulation exercise would involve emergency services and Swindon Borough Council teams, he said. Around one major incident training exercise of this scale takes place each year.

Swindon Advertiser:

He moved to reassure residents: “There is no intelligence that Swindon is at risk, 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.”

Police officers drafted in to help with the exercise were extra to those normally policing Swindon’s streets on a Tuesday night, Supt Minty said. The force’s ability to respond would not be impacted by the town centre operation.

For updates on the operation, follow Wiltshire Police on Twitter