TWO of the region's police forces are using the former HMS Ganges site in Shotley for training - eight years after its role for such purposes officially ended, it has emerged.

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TWO of the region's police forces are using the former HMS Ganges site in Shotley for training - eight years after its role for such purposes officially ended, it has emerged.

Both Suffolk Constabulary and Essex Police have carried out riot or firearms training on the former naval base.

HMS Ganges was previously a police training centre before the site became redundant in 1999.

There were plans to build more than 300 homes and accompanying retail and leisure facilities on the land but these were rejected following a public inquiry.

Suffolk police had been using the old RAF Bentwaters site, near Woodbridge, for training but switched to the Ganges in January and again last month.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “The previous site we used was unavailable so we approached the owners of the Ganges site and they agreed to it.

“It will depend on the situation whether we use it again. If it (Bentwaters) was unavailable to us, we probably would approach them again. There is nothing planned in future.”

A report on Shotley's website says the parish council has been informed of the training by Suffolk police.

It was told the training is usually carried out for specialist roles such as riot, public order, firearms and tactical assaults as well as dog training and is not always carried out during the day.

Finding available sites which could accommodate such scenarios was difficult, according to the report.

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said the force also used the site once every few months to carry out firearms training.

Until 1990, the training of all young men in the Royal Navy was carried out in old wooden sailing shops at various ports across the UK.

One of these, the Ganges, moved to Harwich and was then moored just off Shotley.

In 1905, the Admiralty decided that in future, boy sailors would be trained ashore.

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