A new strategy for countering international terrorism was announced by the UK Home Secretary on 24 March 2009. UK’s ‘CONTEST’ strategy builds on the successes of the existing policy and provides the basis for a coordinated approach to counter terrorism.
For the first time, the UK sets out a full and as open an account as possible. The strategy provides a detailed account of the history of the terrorist threat to the UK and UK interests and the underlying factors which have led to the emergence of the terrorist threat we face today. It indicates how the threat may evolve in the next few years.
The strategy then sets out principles which provide the basis for the UK’s response. They include a determination to place human rights and core values at the heart of all the Government’s counter terrorist work in this country and overseas. The strategy also emphasises the need to address the longer term causes of terrorism as well as its immediate symptoms.
The new strategy retains the framework of the old – four main areas of work entitled Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare. But each of these areas has been updated and the document provides much more detail about specific objectives and programmes.
The strategy sets out comprehensive programmes of action here and overseas including:
* a Pursue strategy which makes use of new resources, which the Government has made available to the agencies, police and the counter terrorism network, to investigate and disrupt terrorist networks here and overseas and to prosecute those responsible.
* a Prevent strategy rolled out since last year that reaches more people – nationally, internationally and locally – than ever before, with clear objectives (reflecting our better understanding of the causes of radicalisation), supporting programmes, dedicated staff and funding.
* a Protect strategy which will further strengthen UK borders, consolidate work on UK’s critical national infrastructure and improve the protection of the crowded places. UK will continue to provide security advice to sports venues and shopping centres and expanded protective programmes for air, sea and rail transport security.
* a Prepare strategy that will enable UK to respond effectively to new types of threat and to recover from any terrorist attack faster than ever before, making use of the resilience network developed in UK in the past few years.
The strategy also includes a number of cross-cutting initiatives, new work to counter the threat of terrorist attack using chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive devices (CBRNE).
The revised strategy contains separate entries covering specific subjects of interest. They include terrorist finance, conflict reduction, cross-Government work in Afghanistan/Pakistan, work on connection with terrorism and the internet and counter terrorism related communications.
The strategy describes in some detail how CONTEST is delivered, taking into account the greater resources and the wider range of people working in counter terrorism. It sets out the roles for the many Government departments now engaged in this area and for local and regional government. It identifies future scientific and technical priorities and sets out the basis for closer work with the private sector. It explains the cross-cutting roles of the police and armed forces.
The document outlines an international response to the threat, describing in each area the international work the Government will be undertaking to support domestic programmes.