The Home Office today published the third published version of the United Kingdom’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as CONTEST. The new strategy reflects the changing terrorist threat and incorporates new Government policies on counter-terrorism. The primary aim of CONTEST is to reduce the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from terrorism, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence. The revised version of Contest has been welcomed by the two major security industry trade bodies the BSIA and ADS, writes Infologue.com’s Bobby Logue.
James Kelly, the Chief Executive of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) welcomed the revision CONTEST strategy which he believed was; “already a world class counter terrorism strategy which has been developed and is currently being used as a model by other countries as a template for their own counter terror strategies.”
Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, commented: “Counter-terrorism remains a crucial Government task but it does not carry it out alone – increasingly requiring greater involvement from industry – and this element has become a higher priority for the UK Government in recent years. Research for the Government suggests that over 8,000 core companies make up this important sector which, is thought to employ almost 335,000 skilled people in the UK. A|D|S represents the suppliers of security solutions that deliver important aspects of counter-terrorism to keep the public safe. The industry has been supporting the Government’s counter-terrorism objectives. As CONTEST explains the UK Security and Resilience Industry Suppliers’ Community – RISC of which the members of A|D|S are a part – is the industry-led mechanism to achieve this. RISC is the main collective body with which the Government can liaise with industry around its counter-terrorism and wider security requirements.
“UK companies are world-leading innovators of cutting edge security equipment, services and solutions which are deployed at home and around the world to help to keep the UK and its allies safe. They are key suppliers of airport security scanning technology, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear – CBRN – capabilities, security consultancy, fully integrated security systems, manpower-related services and cyber security solutions, to name but a few. Industry looks forward to working with the Home Secretary, the Minister for Crime and Security and their teams in the implementation of CONTEST on which the safety of the UK population rests.”
The Home Office set out its motivation for the revision of CONTEST;
“Last year, over 10,000 people were killed by terrorists around the world. But international law enforcement and military collaboration are changing the threats we face. The leadership group of Al Qa’ida is now weaker than at any time since 9/11. It has played no role in recent political change in North Africa and the Middle East. Its ideology has been widely discredited and it has failed in all its objectives. Continued international pressure can further reduce its capability. But Al Qa’ida continues to pose a threat to our own security; and groups affiliated toAl Qa’ida – notably in Yemen and Somalia – have emerged over the past two years to be a substantial threat in their own right. Al Qa’ida is responsible for only a small fraction of terrorist attacks. Other groups, independent from Al Qa’ida but broadly sympathetic to its aims, continue to emerge and to conduct attacks around the world. We judge that four factors will continue to enable terrorist groups to grow and to survive: conflict and instability; aspects of modern technology; a pervasive ideology; and radicalisation. The threats we face here reflect global trends. Al Qa’ida, groups affiliated to Al Qa’ida, other terrorist groups and lone terrorists have all tried to operate in this country. Some have planned attacks here which we have disrupted. Others have recruited people for attacks overseas, spread propaganda and raised funds.
“The threat level in the UK from international terrorism has been SEVERE for much of the period, meaning that we judge a terrorist attack to be ‘highly likely’. Threat levels continue to be set independently by JTAC. For much of this period the greatest threat to the UK has come from terrorist groups based in Pakistan. British nationals (amongst hundreds of other Europeans) are training or operating in Pakistan and some intend to travel to Afghanistan. But over the past twelve months, the threat to UK interests from terrorists in Yemen and Somalia has significantly increased. People from the UK are also travelling to these countries to engage in terrorist related activity; some are returning to the UK to plan and conduct terrorist activities. Over the past two years the threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism (NIRT) has also grown: there were 40 terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland in 2010 and there have been 16 terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland up to 30 June 2011. The threat from NIRT to Great Britain has increased. Between January 2009 and December 2010 over 600 people were arrested for terrorist-related activity in the UK. This is more than any other European country. 67 people have been prosecuted and 58 people convicted for terrorist-related offences.”
Home Office Response
“Our counter-terrorismstrategy will continue to be organised around fourwork streams, each comprisinga number of key objectives:
• Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks;
• Prevent: to stop peoplebecoming terrorists or supporting terrorism;
• Protect: to strengthenour protection against aterrorist attack; and
• Prepare: to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack.
“The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) emphasises the need to tackle the root causes of instability. This approach is reflected in CONTEST. For terrorism we need to address not only the immediate threat of attacks but the longer term factors which enable terrorist groups to grow and flourish. Some of these factors cannot be addressed within a counter-terrorism strategy and are much wider Government priorities. Coordination between CONTEST and other Government programmes is essential. Working closely with other countries will remain a priority.”
“CONTEST will reflect our fundamental values and, in particular, our commitment not only to protect the people of this country and our interests overseas but to do so in a way that is consistent with and indeed advances our commitment to human rights and the rule of law. Our strategy will be proportionate to the riskswe face and only engage in activity which is necessary to address those risks. It will be transparent wherever possible and consistent with national security we will seek to make more information available in order to help the public to hold the Government to account over its policy and spending decisions. We recognise that success has been achieved through international collaboration. That will continue to be the case in future.”