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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK
New 50m police training centre opens
Police training
The centre will offer police riot and crowd control training
A 50m specialist firearms training centre for the police opens in Kent on Tuesday.

The complex in Gravesend features what is effectively a small town, with a pub, football stadium, trains and a passenger jet.

It brings together aspects of training which were previously spread over several sites.

The centre has been purpose-built for the Metropolitan Police but could be used by other forces in the future.

The site covers 9,250 square metres and has been built by a private company, Equion, funded through the government's Private Finance Initiative, using both public and private money.

It is designed to feature the sort of locations where police could have to use guns or handle public disturbances.

The Specialist Training Centre will provide us with cutting-edge facilities that are some of the most advanced in the world
Sir John Stevens, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

Situations which can be simulated range from trouble outside a pub late at night to an plane being hijacked.

There is also scope for training in dealing with riots, crowd control problems and other situations in the "mock town".

It features mock roads, houses, shops, a bank, a pub, a nightclub, a football stadium, a life-size section of a plane and train and underground stations with full-size carriages.

There are also classrooms and lecture theatres, an abseil tower, stables for 10 police horses and accommodation for more than 300 people.

Police weapons training
The centre can accommodate more than 300 officers at a time

Armed officers will also be trained using traditional indoor and outdoor target ranges and the latest computer technology, recreating situations where officers would have just seconds to decide whether to shoot or hold fire.

Sir John Stevens, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: "The Specialist Training Centre will provide us with cutting-edge facilities that are some of the most advanced in the world.

"It is a site dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and will support the delivery of unparalleled standards of training for the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Service.

"The flexibility of the site will enable us to refine our operational effectiveness, using the environment here to mirror the conditions and situations we can expect to face on London's streets."

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