A THREE-DAY counter-terrorism exercise testing the response of emergency services in Scotland and England to a cross-border incident got under way yesterday.

The “live-play scenario”, which will also involve locations in the Lothians and Northumbria, is not in response to any specific threat but the result of more than a year of planning.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said training needs to respond to the change in terror tactics to high-casualty attacks being carried out by individuals or small groups with vehicles and weapons.

Exercise Border Reiver featured a vehicle attack which began in the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh.

It tested armed response teams, paramedics and firefighters as well as police control room and organisational staff, as observers watched the action unfold.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd chaired a Cobra meeting as part of the exercise while the Scottish Government’s resilience room updated Scottish ministers.

Higgins said: “In previous exercises the attacks were more coordinated, so you have had two or three different cells attacking different venues at different times.

“What we’ve seen in recent times is low sophistication – small numbers of people, often lone actors. They’re using vehicles, they’re using knives and bladed weapons, but the impact is high and the casualties are high. So it’s trying to recreate what we believe will be a likely scenario.”