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Police To Test Counter Terrorism Response Monday

Counter terrorism exercise starts Monday

New Zealand’s ability to deal with terrorist attacks is to be tested over a 72-hour period next week.

Exercise Lawman 2004 begins in Christchurch on Monday. Several fictitious "serious" events over the following three days will mobilise New Zealand’s counter-terrorist infrastructure.

A range of people, including Police and other emergency services personnel, will have the opportunity of practising the skills needed to deal with a terrorist crisis in New Zealand.

Exercise Lawman 2004 is the latest in a series of similar exercises, which began in the mid-1970s.

Assistant Commissioner Gavin McFadyen says counter-terrorism exercises are a Government requirement.

"Each exercise is designed to both test and practice the Government and the emergency services and government agencies that would be deployed in such an event," he says.

"Everyone takes it very seriously, including the Government. Several Ministers of the Crown are participating."

The New Zealand Police, the Defence Force, the Security Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will also be fully involved. Each agency has a key role in the resolution of terrorist crises.

"It’s essential all these agencies are regularly tested and have the opportunity to practice. Obviously we hope terrorists never hit New Zealand, but events around the world make terrorism a constant and universal threat," he says.

Most of the exercise activity will be in Christchurch, and people should not be concerned at any unusual levels of police and emergency services activity in that city.

Wellington, as the seat of Government, will also be involved in the political and diplomatic dimensions of the exercise.

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