Funding announced for Counter Terrorism Operations Centre
As suggested a few days before the announcement, the government has committed millions of pounds to bolster the protection of the public against terrorism, by announcing funding for a new National Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC) as part of the Spending Review.
This centre will bring together Counter Terrorism Policing, the UK Intelligence Community and other parts of the criminal justice system into one location. This new, fully-integrated approach will keep the public safer from terrorism by enhancing our ability to discover and prevent attacks, improve response speed, and work more efficiently.
The development of the CTOC was born out of a series of terrorist attacks in 2017, which killed 36 and caused injury and life-changing impacts to many more people. The attacks and the subsequent operational improvement review – which was independently assured by Lord Anderson – highlighted the need to further develop our counter terrorism response to ensure it continues to adapt to an evolving threat.
The need to further develop our capability has been emphasised by attacks here in the UK, 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.
Britain’s intelligence agencies will also receive £173 million more in 2021/22, which the Treasury said amounted to ‘a 5.4 per cent average annual real-terms increase since 2019-20’ – plus £1.3 billion capital investment for the next three years. The extra cash is shared between MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, whose individual budgets are kept secret.
Commissioner Cressida Dick, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “I am delighted that the government has confirmed it is committing funding for the creation of a new Counter Terrorism Operations Centre. 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.
“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 Counter Terrorism Operations Centre that will assist significantly in keeping London and the United Kingdom safe.”
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, 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 Counter Terrorism Operations Centre a reality means the UK will be a safer place.”