Report on Government’s counter-terrorism strategy

07 July 2009

Home Affairs Committee report says Government’s anti-terror strategy deserves every confidence but no room for complacency on risks to Underground and upcoming Olympics

In a report released today the Commons Home Affairs Committee says "the UK’s counter-terrorism apparatus is first-class, effective and as 'joined-up' as any system of government can expect" and it is very impressed by the work of the Government’s lead unit on counter-terrorism, the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT).

The Committee says however that the Transport for London network remains "extremely vulnerable" to terrorist attack. Airport-style security will never be compatible with the demands of a mass transit system with millions of passengers every day. However, the Committee says the network is a key point of vulnerability for the UK and "there is no room for complacency."

Another "critical area of vulnerability" is the London 2012 Olympics and the Committee says engineering a safe and secure Games will be a "litmus test for the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy."

The UK continues to face a sustained and extremely grave threat from terrorism, and the Committee says that "after a slow start" the Government has done a great deal to improve its counter-terrorism structures and now has an impressive approach to the issue. However, more work remains to be done in these areas to make the UK’s arrangements more efficient and effective .

Rt Hon Keith Vaz, Chair of the Committee said:

"I am most grateful to Patrick Mercer and the Sub–Committee which we established to look into these matters for its excellent work which the main Committee adopted in full.

"We must never underestimate the continued grave threat the UK faces from terrorist attack. There is no doubt that there are sophisticated groups out there focussed on doing us harm. However, what we saw of the OSCT and the way it is implementing Project CONTEST, the Government’s comprehensive counter-terror strategy, gave us every confidence that the UK’s counter-terrorism apparatus is effective and 'joined-up' and capable of the large and difficult task it faces. That is not to say there is any room for complacency, and there is always more to be done, but if anything the Government should be more forthcoming about the successes it is having tackling the real and constant threat from terrorism."

"Following this report we will now embark on a new inquiry into the 7/7 bombings. The former Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Andy Hayman recently raised some questions about the work of COBRA, the committee set up to deal with national emergency situations, and we will be considering its effectiveness as the next stage of our scrutiny in this area."

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