While combating terror and providing security, the government will reduce the intrusion by the state into peoples’ lives and give impetus to integrating our society on the basis of equality, responsibility and shared values; Baroness Pauline Neville Jones, the Home Office Minister of State responsible for security and counter-terrorism, told the audience at the Homeland Security and Border Conference Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in London last week.
“Security abroad and at home are part of an inseparable continuum in which the different threats and dangers interact.”
“The establishment of the NSC and the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) are all vital steps to delivering an integrated, more purposive and comprehensive approach to national security. The SDSR in particular will deliver the operational outcome of the defence and security aspects of the National Security strategy in terms that are up to date in relation to the threat and affordable. We will ensure that our capabilities and resources are focussed on the most significant risks we face and opportunities open to us. And, since government neither can, nor wishes to do these things alone, we will work consistently with international partners, the private and the voluntary sectors, not just in formulating the strategy but in its implementation as well. And we will involve the people of this country, especially at the local level. The goal is a society that is resilient physically and psychologically with a shared sense of purpose. It is a truism that the first duty of government is to provide security-in the context, let me say, of a free society. Not much point in security in my view without freedom. It has also become widely accepted that in today’s world, though effective border security is essential as a source of information as much as a means of controlling immigration, physical frontiers provide only very limited protection. Security abroad and at home are part of an inseparable continuum in which the different threats and dangers interact. We also know that man made threats are largely unconventional and asymmetric. They are not, by and large, state against state, though interstate conflict has not disappeared and is unlikely to. And, as we learnt this week, old fashioned spying has not stopped. Indeed a growing menace in cyber space,” the minister continued.
“Resilience is a field crowded with competing priorities: gas or electricity? Or water? Against floods or drought? Or should we give priority to being organised for pandemics? Or a dirty bomb?”
Homeland security is a component of the National Security Strategy and it is an element in the SDSR. In our thinking the armed forces will in future have a more dedicated capability available for homeland security. My particular responsibilities- counterterrorism, resilience and cyber security, which straddle the Home and Cabinet Offices, are all examples of the cross-cutting nature of the policy responses we have to bring to the threats – and opportunities – we face. Resilience is a field crowded with competing priorities: gas or electricity? Or water? Against floods or drought? Or should we give priority to being organised for pandemics? Or a dirty bomb? How much do we really know about the crucial interdependencies of a highly geared, crowded just-in-time economy and society? How far does one invest to protect against a threat that is of low likelihood but of high impact, should it, against all the odds, occur? Much of security policy is about risk management. We cannot hope to cover all angles, protect from all eventualities – quite apart from its unaffordability, to do this would almost certainly be to live in a prison. But we can aspire to understand the risks we face so that we can choose wisely where to invest precious resources and where not. These are not always easy decisions. They require intellectual rigour and can demand political courage. Building on the work of our predecessors in developing the National Risk Assessment, we have a tool for risk assessment and prioritisation – to be used judiciously for sure,” the Baroness concluded.