Sussex police officers trained to respond to nerve agent attack

Laurence Taylor, assistant chief constable at Sussex Police, at last week's performance and accountability meeting
Laurence Taylor, assistant chief constable at Sussex Police, at last week's performance and accountability meeting

Around 100 Sussex Police officers are specifically trained to respond to a chemical or biological incident.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on March 4 and are still critically ill in hospital.

The UK Government has confirmed the pair were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne used last week’s performance and accountability meeting to ask top officers if the county is prepared to respond to an attack similar to the one in Salisbury.

Laurence Taylor, assistant chief constable, said: “In terms of preparedness we are as confident as we can be.”

He described how it would not just be Sussex Police but the national police service also responding if such an incident occurred within the county.

The local resilience forum tests the police and its emergency partners’ response ‘to events like this’.

The force has around 100 dedicated chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear trained officers who also have the appropriate equipment.

Tactical and operational commanders are also prepared to lead a response to an incident of this type.

Mr Taylor added: “In terms of our capacity to respond we have got a good initial response in Sussex that’s well trained that would be supported by the national response to an incident of this scale.”

But he stressed: “There is absolutely no intelligence to suggest anything like this well happen in Sussex and events like this are extremely rare.”