The Government’s first priority is to keep families, communities and our country safe. Today, I have published an updated version of ‘CONTEST: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism’. The new strategy has been laid before Parliament as a Command Paper (Cm 9608), and copies are available in the Vote Office and on gov.uk.
The threat from terrorism, globally and in the UK, is higher than when we last published CONTEST in 2011. The threat from Islamist terrorism, in particular that inspired by Daesh and Al Qa’ida, remains the most severe. Northern Ireland-related terrorism continues to pose a serious threat in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and there is a growing threat from extreme right-wing terrorism. In 2016, we proscribed an extreme right-wing terrorist group, National Action, for the first time.
In 2017, we saw a significant shift in the terrorist threat to the UK. Five attacks in London and Manchester led to the deaths of 36 innocent people, and many more injured. We responded decisively, rapidly adapting our priorities and capabilities, to break the momentum of these attacks. Since March 2017, the police and the security and intelligence agencies successfully foiled a further 12 Islamist plots, and disrupted four extreme right-wing plots.
This strategy is the culmination of a detailed review of the UK’s counter-terrorism arrangements, led by the Home Office. We have designed a new, more agile, flexible and coordinated approach to respond to the shifting nature of the threats we face, including terrorist exploitation of new technology, the increase in attacks in Europe, including the UK, as Daesh is forced into retreat in Syria and Iraq, and the speed with which people are being radicalised and plots developed. We will Introduce new counter-terrorism legislation to disrupt terrorist threats in the UK earlier, taking account of the scale of the threat and the speed at which plots are now developing. We will share information more widely and support more local interventions with individuals in our own communities who are being groomed or incited to commit or support acts of terrorism. We are piloting multi-agency centres to do this in London, Manchester and the West Midlands. We will enhance our efforts to disengage and rehabilitate those already involved in terrorism, including through the expansion of the Desistance and Disengagement Programme. And we will continue to work in partnership with the aviation industry and international partners to deliver robust and sustainable aviation security in the UK and overseas.
This strengthened strategy sets out how we will build on the UK’s formidable capabilities, experience and expertise to tackle the growing and changing threat from terrorism in all its forms.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: