Gun training at old quarry

PUBLISHED: 13:27 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 25 May 2010

A birds-eye view of the proposed firearms facility

A birds-eye view of the proposed firearms facility

Copyright Archant Ltd

A STATE-OF-THE-ART firearms training centre could be built near Portishead as part of a huge programme to upgrade police buildings.

A STATE-OF-THE-ART firearms training centre could be built near Portishead as part of a huge programme to upgrade police buildings.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary is in the process of buying Black Rock Quarry, opposite the recycling centre in Valley Road, to build two firing ranges and a 'method of entry' tactics house.

These will be used to train hundreds of firearms officers from Avon and Somerset as well as the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire police forces.

These forces currently have separate facilities, with one at the Avon and Somerset headquarters in Portishead.

Superintendent Adrian Coombs, firearms commander, said: "There is always a firearms team on 24-hour response and they have to be ready for all kinds of scenarios.

"There are various tactics officers can use - deploying them on foot or in a vehicle.

"The people involved may be on a bike, in the street, in a vehicle or in a building.

"We recreate situations that have happened in the past.

"This facility will enable us to pool resources with the other forces and make training more economical."

A regular patrolling firearms officer is required to take part in three weeks training. Even more is required for officers hoping to take on specialist roles, such as close protection officers who accompany VIPs.

This training will all be carried out at the new facility.

The firing ranges will each have eight lanes and there will be classrooms and a weapon cleaning room.

The tactics house, which will consist of a building inside another building, will be used to train officers in the best way to approach a building in a firearms incident.

Each building will be sound proofed and there will be high security measures in place.

While they are not being used, the guns and ammunition will be stored at the police headquarters.

After securing outline planning permission, the force hopes to have full planning permission by mid-2011 so the building can be operational by the end of 2013.

It will be built at the Valley Road end of the 14-acre quarry - the remaining half will be left for the existing wildlife, which includes nesting birds

The facility is expected to be the first building to be completed as part of Avon and Somerset Constabulary's wider Accommodation Programme.

This will also include creating three new custody centres, a new Somerset West centre in Bridgwater and a new operations facility in Bridgwater.

The force will have to bid for funding from the Government's Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for the scheme before putting it out to developers.

Project manager Sue Harvie said: "A substantial sum of PFI money has been ring-fenced for this project.

"This is all about improving efficiency and performance as well as making ourselves more accessible to the public.

"We want to have buildings fit for the next 30 years."

*A public exhibition about the firearms facility proposals will take place in the Methodist church hall in High Street, Portishead, from 2.30-7pm on February 8.

Members of the project team will be on hand from 5-7pm to answer questions.

More information about the project will be available online from February 3 at www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/accomodation

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