Police Tunnel Team

25 January 2010, 12:32 | Updated: 25 January 2010, 12:42

A new partnership has seen Sussex Police and South East Water join forces in a training initiative that will help officers solve crimes across Sussex.

The Specialist Search Unit of Sussex Police has been simulating searching for people and evidence in the treatment works in Arlington in East Sussex.

The multi-skilled team often has to dive in lakes, rivers and ponds, or enter dangerous places where they could be at risk from gases or lack of air. The deep dark tunnels and tiny tanks make the works the perfect location for the officers to practise their skills.

Sergeant Lorna Dennison-Wilkins of Sussex Police said: “You never know when you may be required to enter somewhere that would be classed as a confined space, so it is important that we receive regular training and practise the possible situations we may find ourselves in.

“The South East Water treatment works has proven to be the perfect location to really test our skills in dealing with difficult environments. It can be challenging entering places like dark tunnels with no sign of light, little air and numerous hazards. But if we get to practise in a safe environment like the water works it means we will be able to respond quickly in a real incident, save lives or find vital evidence that could bring offenders to justice.”

During the training, the team of eight members of Sussex Police wore specialist breathing apparatus to practice manoeuvring and searching the network of chambers and pipes.

South East Water is now looking for other ways to support the Police with their training and further exercises are expected to take place in the future.

Health, safety and quality manager for South East Water Chris Lunn said: “We place a great deal of importance on health and safety. Our own staff are regularly trained in working in these small and potentially dangerous places.

“We are delighted to support Sussex Police with their training requirements by allowing training to take place at our site. We also benefit, as we know if ever there was an emergency at our own works Sussex Police would know what to expect.”