VIDEO: Watch as South Yorkshire Police officers walk through fire during petrol bomb attack

A yob hurls a petrol bomb which explodes right in front of a squad of shield-bearing riot cops.

Wednesday, 25th October 2017, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:30 am
Petrol bomb training.

This is the latest in a long line of violent incidents to mar this South Yorkshire street, in which riots happen almost daily.

But you won't hear of any complaints from embattled residents for this is no normal street.

It is actually part of South Yorkshire Police's Public Order Command and Tactical Training Unit in Manvers, Rotherham, where hundreds of officers are trained every year to deal with mass disturbances.

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Petrol bomb training.

The base is hidden away in the corner of an industrial estate but has for 15 years delivered specialist courses on everything from how to deal with potential riots at football games and responding to terror attacks to self-defence training and how to execute a drugs raid.

Public order training inspector Alex Murthi, who has been an officer for 23 years, said: "We train officers from all across the region, including South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Humberside and North Yorkshire, and the centre is recognised as a major centre for excellence.

"There are only nine such centres in the UK, and this is one of them."

Housed inside a huge industrial unit you will find a network of streets populated by mock houses, flats, a prison cell, a pub and even a football ground turnstyle.

Officers face the flames.

Insp Murthi said: "The idea is to make it as real as possible so what officers learn in here they can apply it with confidence out in the real world, in potentially dangerous situations.

"So we have the prison cell to look at how to deal with an inmate who is causing problems, we can practice how to execute search warrants at the tactical house, how to deal with disorder in a pub, and how to manage a crowd outside a football ground.

"We also look at how we deal with other highly populated areas so for example if there is a royal visit or a big cycle race, we learn about crowd management."

Training for firearms officers and seminars in how to deal with 'chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear' incidents - which could be anything from an oil spill to a terror attack - are among around 300 different courses delivered year round covering virtually all aspects of policing.

Officers walk through fire.

On the day we visited for an exclusive tour of the centre, officers were using an outdoors area to learn how to deal with a crowd throwing petrol bombs.

The officers facing the yobs are protected by fire retardant gear, body armour, reinforced boots, shields and helmets - and for good reason.

Inspector Mark Payling explained what it was like to walk through fire.

"It was very hot. But joking aside the training is extremely important.

Insp Mark Payling.

"You can find yourself going into situations which can cause fear and get the adrenaline pumping.

"But knowing that you are trained up to the highest level, alongside all of your colleagues, helps you to keep a cool head.

"You just have to put what you have learned into practice."

Insp Payling and his colleagues were receiving annual refresher training as part of their roles in a police support unit, made up of about 23 officers, that are often deployed to football matches.

There were 14 such units deployed to the recent Steel City Derby between Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, meaning there were around 300 officers on duty that day.

About 600 officers are put through their paces at the centre every year.

Inside the training centre.

Recruits used to volunteer for it, but since 2014 it has become mandatory for all new police constables to receive the training to ensure officers with the required training are always available countrywide to cover major events.

After more than a decade in the job, public order training sergeant Collette Pitcher has faced all manner of highly-charged situations, from attending the G8 summit protests in Scotland about a decade ago in which 700 people were arrested to providing assistance during the London riots in more recent years.

She always remembers her first major skirmish while policing a Sheffield United v Cardiff game at Bramall Lane.

"Chairs were thrown outside a pub near the ground.

"As a new recruit it does get the adrenaline pumping but it really helps having experienced colleagues with you to provide advice if you are unsure.

"The training also kicks in and you just do what you're taught."

She added communication is key to diffusing a potentially volatile situation.

"Being able to talk to people and explain to them calmly at say a football match about why we are keeping them in a certain area is very important. If people know why things are happening, then that helps to keep things calm.

"A lot of what we are trained to do when we are in the riot gear is stuff that should only be used as a last resort if a situation is getting out of control.

"We are here to keep order and protect the public, so the training is geared towards that."

The mock football turnstyles.
Officers approaching.
Petrol bomb training.
Officers face the flames.
Officers walk through fire.
Insp Mark Payling.
Inside the training centre.
The mock football turnstyles.
Officers approaching.