South West police forces to share anti-terror work

Anti-terrorism work will be shared between police forces in the south-west of England following a new agreement.

The forces will co-ordinate intelligence gathered on extremist groups, activists and other threats to national security.

The agreement is not in response to a specific threat, but is part of a policy to work closer together.

The police forces involved will be Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

The agreement between the Special Branch divisions was signed at a meeting of the police and crime commissioners and chief constables of all five forces on Wednesday.

Special Branch investigate all forms of extremism, including domestic and foreign based terrorists, which could pose a threat to the UK.

Current operations include protecting farmers from animal rights extremists during the trial badger cull, which is due to start in Somerset and Gloucestershire in June.

In Devon and Cornwall, one of the most high profile Special Branch operations was the investigation into Nicky Reilly, the Islamic convert from Plymouth who tried to detonate home-made bombs in Exeter, in May 2008.

The meeting between commissioners and chief constables will be held later in Portishead, near Bristol, which is the headquarters of Avon and Somerset Police.

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