Please find the following statements which were read at the multi-agency press conference in Amesbury this afternoon.
These include statements from:
Good afternoon, I am Kier Pritchard, Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police.
Put simply, it is unbelievable that I am here to talk about another Novichok nerve agent incident in our county. We, like our communities and the wider public, are shocked that a second major incident of a similar nature has unfolded in Wiltshire.
That said, we've learned a vast amount from the first incident back in March and that has greatly informed our multi-agency response to the incident in Amesbury and Salisbury.
The communities in Salisbury and Amesbury have shown extraordinary resilience and spirit since the events of March 4 this year and I have no doubt they will rise to this latest challenge in the same way.
Our thoughts are with the two individuals who remain critically ill following their exposure to Novichok, their friends and families. This is, undoubtedly, a terrifying time for them all.
I would like to spend some time talking about the context of the initial response to this incident and some of the key decisions which were made based on what we knew at that time.
As we've previously stated, we were contacted by the South Western Ambulance Service following the admission of the second patient to Salisbury District Hospital on Saturday afternoon.
Based on the information we received from a friend of the couple who had been with them that day, alongside the initial medical diagnosis and items located at the address, there was a strong indication from this that the decline in their health may have been be connected to a contaminated batch of illegal drugs. Based on this our initial hypothesis was that the situation was connected to a contaminated batch of illegal drugs.
Therefore, our response, based on that hypothesis, was entirely proportionate and I fully support the decisions taken by the initial police responders and commanders.
I have spoken to the initial responders to provide my support and reassure them concerning the decisions they made based on the information that was available.
Following concerns from medical staff regarding the symptoms the couple were showing, samples were sent to DSTL labs at Porton Down for analysis.
Preliminary results of these tests came back on Tuesday evening, indicating that they may have been exposed to a nerve agent and this, quite obviously shifted our working hypothesis.
We declared a major incident thereafter and as we saw last night, scientists subsequently confirmed our fears that the couple had been exposed to the Novichok nerve agent.
Since the incident in March, we've formed a close working relationship with our colleagues at the Counter Terrorism Policing Network and, as such, had very early conversations with them regarding this incident.
As you will all be aware, last night, the Counter Terrorism Policing Network confirmed they will be taking primacy for this investigation. They have also stated that they are not in a position to say whether the nerve agent used in this latest incident was from the same batch that Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Sgt Nick Bailey were exposed to back in March this year.
The possibility that these two investigations might be linked is clearly a line of enquiry for them but it is very important that we keep an open mind and do not speculate on this issue.
Although we are not leading this investigation, Wiltshire Police have a crucial role in supporting the Counter Terrorism Policing Network as their enquiries continue. This is a complex and fast-paced investigation and my officers, staff and volunteers are absolutely up to the task in hand.
Our top priority is, and will always be, the safety of everyone across our communities. To that end, people in Amesbury and Salisbury will see a significant increase in the amount of police officers there, which will include officers in protective equipment as they carry out activity at a number of sites. This will look similar to some of the activity which took place in Salisbury earlier this year.
I don't want people to be alarmed by this but reassured - we are there to support the ongoing investigation and provide a visible presence which we hope will help reassure our communities during this unprecedented period. We are also there to answer any questions you might have and I would encourage you to speak to officers and staff who are at these sites across our county.
I would also like to reiterate that we have set up two phone numbers for anyone with concerns about this incident to call. These numbers are Freephone 0800 092 0410 or 0207 158 0124 if you are unable to access Freephone numbers.
These lines are being run jointly by Wiltshire Police alongside Public Health England colleagues. To date, we've taken more than 100 calls. Please use this number if you have any concerns or information relating to this incident. My staff are ready to receive your call.
My colleague from Public Health England will give an update shortly and of course I want to re-iterate the public safety message which has already been provided and you will hear more about that shortly. Further, helpful safety advice is also available on the Public Health England website and I would urge any concerned members of the public to visit the website or call the dedicated phonelines.
Wiltshire Police continue to co-ordinate a large-scale multi-agency response to this major incident. We are working in conjunction with more than 12 partner agencies from health, local authorities in Wiltshire and Swindon, other blue light services, the military and governmental departments.
I fully appreciate the effect the cordons will have on local people and businesses. Please let me reassure you that my officers and staff, partner agencies and our colleagues at the Counter Terrorism Policing network will do all we can to progress this investigation and help return the communities of Amesbury and Salisbury back to normality.
You will now start to see protective barriers being put up to replace cordons at some of the scenes around Amesbury and Salisbury.
I want to reassure you that this is a request from Counter Terrorism Police and is simply to allow police officers and partners the space to carry out their investigation. Do not be alarmed.
I would ask that the public continue to respect these cordons.
We will be updating the public as much as we can but I need to re-emphasise that this is a complex and developing incident so it is difficult to know when these updates will be given.
Finally, as stated by the Counter Terrorism Police Network, I would like to reiterate the appeal for anyone with information in relation to this incident to contact police immediately.
I'm Debbie Stark and I'm the Deputy Director for Public Health England in the South-West.
Our role in this incident is to provide advice to the police, Wiltshire Council, national Government and the public, about all aspects concerning people's health.
I would like to start off by reiterating that based on current evidence, the risk to the general public as a result of this incident, remains low.
I understand that people in Amesbury and Salisbury, and those who have recently visited the area, will be concerned about this incident. I would however like to reassure you, that it is safe to continue with your daily business and lives in the area.
Obviously incidents like this one are very rare but we would like to reassure you that when any health protection incident occurs, we put in place well-established response plans and follow clear processes, to ensure we can keep the community safe. We evaluate the information that we have and assess the risk to the public, based on what we know. It is by using this information that we can confidently advise that the risk to the public in Salisbury and Amesbury remains low.
As a precautionary measure, however, we are advising that anyone who may have been in any of the five areas now cordoned off, from 10pm on Friday evening should:wash the clothing that they were wearing in an ordinary washing machine using regular detergent, at the temperature recommended for the clothing. This will not damage the washing machine.Do not pick up anything if you don't know what it is.
As has already been mentioned, areas of Salisbury already cleaned as part of the previous incident and which are now back in use, like the Maltings, are safe.
I understand that the events of the past few days, and the appearance of further cordons in Salisbury and Amesbury, will be a cause for concern. I would like to reassure you that we are working tirelessly alongside national government and local partners to ensure that the public remain safe and that we keep our advice under review and up to date.
Hello, my name is Cara Charles-Barks and I'm the Chief Executive of Salisbury District Hospital.
As you have heard, we received the two patients on Saturday and have been treating them at the hospital ever since
Both of these patients remain in a critical condition.
Having been exposed to a nerve agent, they are clearly acutely unwell. We will continue to keep you updated on the condition of these individuals, while respecting the privacy to which they - and all our patients are entitled.
We have also seen other members of the public who have come to our hospital with concerns about their health following this incident. We have carried out appropriate tests and none of these individuals have needed any treatment.
Given the events in March, we at Salisbury District Hospital have developed a wealth of knowledge and experience in treating those exposed to nerve agents. This has meant we can give these patients the expert care that they need whilst ensuring the safety of our staff, our other patients and visitors to the hospital.
I want to reiterate that the hospital remains completely open and operating as normal.
If you have an appointment, you should continue to come to the hospital, unless you are otherwise informed.
Today marks the 70th birthday of the NHS. As we mark this historic event, we pay tribute to the millions of staff who've worked tirelessly, providing amazing care to people across this country every single day since 1948.
And I want to pay a special tribute to our staff at Salisbury Hospital.
Yet again they've found themselves treating patients in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Despite these challenges, they've given these patients the same level of outstanding care we strive to give all our patients. This is as true for clinical staff as it is for those working hard behind the scenes.
On our 70th birthday, the treatment given to these individuals at Salisbury Hospital is a shining example of the world-leading care provided by our NHS.
This hospital has been a vital part of the community for many years, and I - like my colleagues - want to thank the public for the support they've shown us during this time.
My name is Alistair Cunningham, and I'm chair of the Salisbury recovery coordinating group.
For the past four months we have been supporting Salisbury; particularly the local community and businesses.
The message remains clear: as public health partners have stated, the risk to the public is low. And, as we have heard they will keep this assessment under constant review as further information becomes known.
Our role right now is to provide support to our partners, as needed, and to be the link between central government and the local communities affected in both Salisbury and Amesbury.
There has been, and will continue to be, an impact on businesses and footfall in Amesbury Town Centre and Salisbury City Centre and we will continue to provide support to those affected, as we have done since the first incident in March.
I would urge any businesses who are concerned about the impact of this recent incident to contact the Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Hub on 01225 402096 for advice and support.
We are also supporting residents affected by this latest incident, including those who need to be rehoused temporarily, as a precautionary measure. Wiltshire Council is meeting with residents to offer help and support, and we will continue to do all we can to assist the community and local residents during this extraordinary time.
If any residents have concerns, they should call the public information help line on 0800 0920 410 or 0207 158 0124. The lines are currently open from 8.00am to 8.00pm, but we are looking to extend these times.
The recovery programme following the first incident is continuing and four sites have been signed off as clean and safe for use by the Government's Decontamination Science Advisory Group. The remaining sites are currently being cleaned by specialist teams, overseen by Defra, with the exception of the Skripal residence, which remains under police investigation.
A meeting of Salisbury Area Board is scheduled for 7.00pm this evening at City Hall. A panel of the partners involved in this recent incident will update the local community and answer be available to answers any questions from residents and businesses.
Published on Thursday 5 July 2018 at 5:00pm.