The private sector is moving into the fight against terrorism as police and the military are to be offered the chance to hone their skills at a state-of-the-art weapons and tactics centre in a former underground reservoir.
The £20 million independent National Firearms and Tactical Training Centre (NFTTC) to be built in Bedford will feature specialist weapons ranges and live-fire houses that can be decked out to create realistic hostage, siege and terrorism scenarios.
The privately-funded 200,000 sq ft centre, due to open in January 2017, will be constructed inside the Manton Lane Underground Reservoir, which was built in 1935 and decommissioned by Anglia Water in the 1990s.
The facility, to be built by British private equity investment company Lou Bedford Limited, will feature five live-fire ranges in lengths from 100m to 25m with systems provided by Action Target, the world leader in indoor range equipment.
There will also be two-storey live-fire skills houses to practise hostage rescue and marauding terrorist scenarios, and set design systems that can imitate streets, schools, hotels, airports and so on, as well as space for vehicle interception drills.
Former RAF officer Andrew Young, the NFTTC's director of marketing, said: "While the British police and military have some of the best personnel and training facilities in the world, increasing demand means that there isn't enough capacity for all their needs. What we're offering is a centre of excellence to bridge that gap."
The NFTTC is being built and licensed to safety and security standards set down by the Home Office and the College of Policing. It is completely enclosed and has 6ft thick buffer walls to ensure total safety and 100% sound-proofing.
Advanced confidential talks are taking place with a number of police forces and military and civilian firearms-approved agencies across the country regarding rental of the facilities.
At full capacity, the NFTTC aims to provide training from £100 per officer per day.