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Home Office launches CONTEST 2023 - the UK's updated counter-terrorism strategy

CONTEST has a clear mission: to reduce the risk from terrorism to the UK, its citizens, and its interests overseas, so that people can live freely and with confidence.

The government updated the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR), in March 2023. The IR document set out the UK’s overarching national security and international strategy. Terrorism is one of the threats covered by that strategy and CONTEST outlines HMG's response to it in further detail.

Since the last version of CONTEST in 2018, concerted counter-terrorism efforts by the UK and key allies have largely been successful in driving down risk by suppressing the most serious terrorist threats. This has enabled a rebalancing of finite national security resource into other areas of threat. The core CONTEST framework empowers government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities, frontline emergency services, intelligence agencies, and other partners, to work together to counter terrorism. The UK's global allies, and independent experts, recognise the core CONTEST Framework – Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare – to be a world leading counter-terrorism programme. 

However, the threat from terrorism is enduring and evolving. Despite a prevalence of lower sophistication attacks in the UK, the threat seen today and in the coming years, is more diverse, dynamic and complex:

  • a domestic terrorist threat which is less predictable, harder to detect and investigate
  • a persistent and evolving threat from Islamist terrorist groups overseas
  • an operating environment where accelerating advances in technology provide both opportunity and risk to our counter-terrorism efforts

The UK's counter-terrorism response will be even more agile in the face of an evolving threat. Within this strategy, the government commits to:

  • realise the full potential of the UK’s world-leading Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC), bringing together the right teams, data and technology to more effectively identify, investigate and disrupt terrorists
  • ensure that counter-terrorism investigations draw on an increased range of expert advice and non-law enforcement interventions to mitigate the evolving terrorist threat. Better connecting the counter-terrorism system with expertise in healthcare, education, social services and the criminal justice system to respond to the complexity of the terrorist threat
  • maintain investment in critical threat assessment capabilities, through the world-class Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC)
  • support the public and private sector to be effective partners in preventing attacks and reducing loss of life in the event of an attack, transforming communications effort to focus core messages in areas where the public has a critical role to play in our counter-terrorism response
  • deepen international counter-terrorism partnerships; aligning strategic approaches and detecting and disrupting threats together, to maximise the effectiveness of existing capabilities and develop new ones to protect citizens
  • further strengthen the UK Border as a critical line of defence against terrorism, taking advantage of new immigration tools, detection, targeting and biometric capabilities, to identify and block threats from entering the UK
  • continue to invest in the identification of future threats and opportunities that derive from technology, working with international partners, the private sector, think tanks and academia
  • build on engagement with the tech sector, participating in the co-ordinated, international effort to supress terrorist exploitation of the internet, including co-operation with companies on a bilateral basis and partnership with non-governmental organisations and multilateral forums

The full CONTEST 2023 Strategy can be found here


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