DCSIMG

Boys in blue have a riot of a time at new training hub

Date:4th June 2014. Picture James Hardisty, (JH100391h) West Yorkshire Police Training Facility at Carr gate, Wakefield. Pictured Students acting as rioters throwing items at West Yorkshire Police officers during a training session at the facility regarding how to deal with public order as such large crowds attending a football matches and members of the public rioting.

Date:4th June 2014. Picture James Hardisty, (JH100391h) West Yorkshire Police Training Facility at Carr gate, Wakefield. Pictured Students acting as rioters throwing items at West Yorkshire Police officers during a training session at the facility regarding how to deal with public order as such large crowds attending a football matches and members of the public rioting.

Protesters hurl stones at police officers during a riot on a town centre street.

West Yorkshire Police says scenarios like this are rare across the area.

But thanks to the creation of a new £30m training centre just off junction 41 of the M1 at Carr Gate in Wakefield, officers will be thoroughly trained and prepared should such violence break out on our streets.

The centre features a public order training arena, three firearms ranges, a driver manoeuvre area as well as offices and classrooms.

Training exercises, like the one pictured, are held in a vast warehouse-style arena and are set up to recreate challenges they would face maintaining public order across the area.

Ch Supt Dickie Whitehead, divisional commander for the new facility, said: “Our aim is to deliver a world-class policing service that keeps communities safe and feeling safe.

“A key part of that is having a world-class facility to train our officers and that is what this new centre offers.

“It provides us with the capability to react to critical and serious incidents and those that cause significant concerns in communities.

“But we always work on a basis that prevention is better than a cure. The last thing any police officer wants to do is to discharge a firearm and in fact their most powerful weapon is their mouth.”

The public order training base has a replica pub, shops, a town square and even its own football stand where police can practise crowd control. The Express was given a tour of the new training complex, which senior officers describe as the best of its kind in Europe.

Supt Dave Lunn, head of training for West Yorkshire Police, said: “It’s not just about classroom training any more. We need to bring as much realism into the training as we can.

“It’s a really complex world out there with some really challenging scenarios. But now we have the new facility, there are hardly any limits to what we can set up for the officers.”

There are also roads, houses and a mock town inside the arena where officers can practice for petrol attacks.

As well as the public order base, the most notable additions to previous training facilities are three firearms ranges and a specialist live fire skills house, alongside an advanced driver manoeuvring area replacing the old skid pan at Crofton.

One of the shooting ranges is 100m long and can incorporate cars to set up different situations which an officer could face on the streets.

The ranges can also replicate day or night-time settings and a giant screen is used to simulate different possible scenarios.

Supt Lunn added: “I like to think of it as we are in the Champions League now. Some of the facilities we had before were very tired and weren’t very flexible so the officers knew what was happening and became complacent in their training.

“These new facilities are totally flexible and provide them with as realistic a situation as possible.”

Funded by a £216m Public Finance Initiative project, which has already seen new divisional headquarters built at Normanton and Elland Road, Leeds, it has been constructed on land near the force’s existing specialist operations centre.

It stretches from the dual carriageway at Carr Gate across to the side of the M1 just near to junction 41.

Ch Supt Whitehead added: “If people want our police officers to be the best, we have to train them in the best possible way we can.

“Our force requires this world-class facility to continue to deliver a world-class policing service.”

As well as the public order arena, driver manoeuvre area and the firearms ranges, the centre is also home to the force’s dogs and mounted section.

There are also office and classroom training facilities provided in Bishopgarth House - replacing the former building in Wakefield city centre.

 

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