Thames Valley Police officers have been pictured armed with large guns, but why?
The Force has been taking part in a multi-agency exercise to test major incident contingency plans and the response of the emergency services in the event of a major incident within the region.
The agencies taking part in the exercise include South East Counter Terrorism Unit (SECTU), Thames Valley Police, Hampshire Constabulary and the military.
The exercise started yesterday and continues into today (Wednesday) and involve a multi-site marauding terrorist firearms attack scenario in Oxfordshire and a covert surveillance operation in public spaces across Thames Valley followed by a covert hostage rescue at two building venues.
Deputy Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, John Campbell said every effort has been made to keep disruption to a minimum to nearby residents and communities but admitted some of the activity might be visible.
“This is one of a number of routine and pre-planned exercises organised across the country to test the response of the emergency services,” he said.
“We carry out these exercises to test contingency plans and the co-ordination of the response to a major incident on a regular basis. This training is not being carried out in response to any specific threat.
“The exercise will not affect our resources or ability to keep our communities safe in the Thames Valley and in Hampshire, it will be business as usual for our thousands of officers and staff who are not involved in this training.
“Since August 2014, the threat to the UK form international terrorism has been graded as ‘severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely. As such I want to take this opportunity to remind the public to remain vigilant.
“We depend on information from the public. They can be our eyes and our ears and help keep themselves and communities safe by reporting suspicious activity. You can report any suspicious activities to police on the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline - 0800 789 321.
“If you know anyone you might be potentially vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism or violent extremism you can contact your local police on 101 or visit www.preventtragedies.co.uk for further advice and guidance.
“If in the unlikely event you get caught up in a weapons or firearms attack, remember to run, then hide, then tell the police.”