Chancellor confirms funding for ‘historic’ new counter-terror operations centre

The head of UK Counter-Terrorism Policing says the creation of a world-leading, fully-integrated counter-terror operations centre is “a genuinely historic milestone”.

Nov 26, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu

As expected, Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to a multi-million pound package in his Spending Review to fund the new London-based centre.

And Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said it will significantly improve their ability to “protect the UK and its citizens”.

Mr Sunak said the delivery of a world-leading new Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC) will bring the UK intelligence community, counter-terrorism policing and other parts of the criminal justice system together into one location, adding: “This new, fully-integrated approach will keep the public safer from terrorism by enhancing the ability to discover and prevent attacks, improve the speed of response and work together more efficiently.”

The development of the CTOC was born out of a series of terrorist attacks in 2017, which killed 36 people and caused injury and life-changing impacts to many others. The attacks and the subsequent operational improvement review – which was independently assured by Lord Anderson – highlighted the need to further develop the UK’s counter-terrorism response to ensure it continues to adapt to an evolving threat.

Mr Basu says this has been emphasised by attacks in the UK in the past year and recent attacks across Europe; the 27 successful disruptions since the 2017 terrorist attacks; and the recent rise in the terrorism threat level to Severe – all in the context of a broadening threat environment and an increasingly challenging technical environment.

The CTOC will be a new part of the overall UK counter-terrorism response – bringing together, for the first time, all the London-based counter-terror elements in one place.

Mr Basu says having a CTOC in London will enable co-location of the London-based elements of counter-terrorism policing, the intelligence agencies and the criminal justice system, as well as other government agencies focused on tackling the threat from terrorism.

He added: “An integrated, partnership-driven approach within a purpose-built working environment – the CTOC will bring the right people, skills and technology together to help strengthen our ability to protect the UK. It will help us install smarter working practices and cultures, rationalising processes and structures, and boosting innovation with new forms of collaboration.”

Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she was “delighted” that the Government confirmed it is committing funding for the creation of a new CTOC.

“Following the dreadful attacks of 2017, I, along with the Director-General of MI5, committed both our organisations to identify exactly where we could learn from those events and continually improve the way we work together to protect the public from the terrorist threat; the concept of bringing police closer together with our national security partners into a joint operations centre came directly out of this learning,” she said.

“Since 2017 we have worked closely with the Mayor of London, our intelligence agency and security partners and the Government to turn the concept into reality.

“The investment that policing, the mayor and the Government are all making will create a CTOC that will assist significantly in keeping London and the UK safe.”

Mr Basu added: “The creation of a world-leading, fully-integrated counter terrorism operations centre is a genuinely historic milestone.

“Counter Terrorism Policing and our national security partners have always had a close and effective working relationship, but being co-located is an opportunity for us to take that one step further, and will only improve our ability to protect the UK and its citizens.

“This has been a complex project we have all been working on delivering for some time, and really demonstrates there are no party politics in protecting the public. I’d like to echo the Commissioner’s words of thanks to the Government and the Mayor of London, whose joint support in making the CTOC a reality means the UK will be a safer place.”

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