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29 February 2016

INTERPOL supports London’s biggest multi-agency emergency exercise

The United Kingdom’s largest multi-agency emergency services training exercise is taking place on the outskirts of the British capital this week, with support from INTERPOL Manchester and the INTERPOL General Secretariat’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Team.

From 29 February - 3 March, Exercise Unified Response will simulate a significant building collapse, resulting in mass casualties and fatalities to enable London's emergency response organizations to practice how to collaboratively address the emergency situation from a rescue, forensics and law enforcement perspective.

Co-funded by the European Union and led by the London Fire Brigade, the exercise involves specialized teams from across the UK and several European countries. It is taking place simultaneously at four separate venues in central and southeast London as well as at a disused power station.

“This week-long exercise will serve to test national and international response to a mass casualty - mass fatality disaster,” commented David Allen, Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) for the United Kingdom.

“International participation has been coordinated through the INTERPOL NCBs in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands, with each country deploying a DVI team not only to provide disaster victim identification expertise but also to add international police cooperation authenticity to this large-scale training event,” added Mr Allen.

In addition to DVI-related scene investigation, the UK National DVI unit will be coordinating a mass fatality DVI element to the exercise, with members of INTERPOL’s DVI unit helping to construct a temporary mortuary close to the disaster scene where international disaster victim identification operations will be coordinated.

“It is critical to give this kind of exercise international scope and outreach, because there is always a high probability that a disaster will involve victims from many different countries,” commented Howard Way of the UK National DVI unit.

“International police cooperation is important if we are to ensure all victims are given the accurate, dignified and reliable identification that they and their families deserve,” added Mr Way, who also serves as Deputy Chair of INTERPOL’s DVI Working Group.

INTERPOL’s internationally recognized DVI guidelines are the global standard in identifying victims and have previously been the basis for successful victim identification following major disasters. These include the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Westgate shopping centre terrorist attack in Kenya in 2013, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines the same year and the Malaysia Airlines MH 17 crash in Ukraine in 2014.

The UK National DVI is part of the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) which has national remit for coordinating the deployment of UK police officers and specialist personnel nationwide and internationally to support large-scale events, operations, disasters and emergencies.

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