Elite counter terrorism police conducted a rare training exercise on the Isle of Wight today (Wednesday), with loud explosions sparking concern amongst local residents.
Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officers (CTSFO), from the Metropolitan Police, travelled across the Solent to the Island with a fleet of unmarked Police cars – vehicles more commonly seen on the streets of London.
Island Echo readers got in touch at just gone 13:00 to report the suspected Police vehicles – a BMW X5, a BMW saloon and 2 Mercedes-Benz Vito vans – responding on blue lights and sirens along Military Road towards Freshwater.
It can now be revealed that the mainland officers were carrying out a training exercise at the former Weston Primary School in Totland. It is unclear why this location was picked out of all the empty buildings in the country and why the training exercise took place on the Island during the COVID pandemic lockdown.
Residents living in the Weston Road area knew nothing of the training scenario until loud explosions were heard shortly before 13:45, prompting calls to 999. It’s thought the explosions were likely to be flash bangs or similar tactical devices.
The officers, fully clad in grey Kevlar body armour, relocated to the waterfront at Totland Bay to de-kit before returning towards Newport at normal driving speeds.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Met Police has told Island Echo:
“We can confirm that Met firearms officers have been involved in an essential training exercise today on the Isle of Wight. This exercise is part of critical training to ensure that firearms officers are able to respond swiftly and effectively to incidents and keep communities safe, not only in London, but across the country.
“The Met were in close contact with Hampshire Constabulary ahead of this exercise.”