A joint memorandum submitted by the Home
Office, Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office (22 May 2002)
KEY RESPONSIBILITIES AND PROCESSES
1. The Memorandum submitted to the Committee
by the Ministry of Defence (D/Parliamentary/21/42 of 23 January
2002) made clear the wider political, diplomatic and military
efforts that constitute the government's response to the challenges
set by the events of 11 September.
2. A key component of that work has been
the defence and security of the UK itself. Since 11 September,
the Home Office and Cabinet Office have been at the heart of a
major cross Departmental programme of work designed to enhance
the resilience of the UK. The Ministry of Defence, with its supporting
role, has been closely involved in this work.
3. The Cabinet Committee structure provides
the ideal framework for managing the work. In particular, the
Home Secretary's Chairmanship of the Ministerial Group on Preventive
and Protective Security (DOP(IT)(T)) and the Civil Contingencies
Committee (CCC) allow him to maintain a clear oversight of the
issues, ensuring that effort is correctly prioritised and any
difficulties identified are addressed quickly and effectively.
The Prime Minister receives regular and detailed reports on progress
4. DOP(IT)(T), which is chaired by the Home
Secretary, is responsible for determining policy for preventive
and precautionary security measures in the United Kingdom to counter
the threat of terrorism. It is supported by a number of official
committees and ad hoc groups; these deal with a range of subjects
and issues such as civil aviation security standards, security
at ports, terrorist financing and the protection of key sites.
DOP(IT)(T) and its supporting committees and groups are supported
by the Defence and Overseas Secretariat in the Cabinet Office.
5. CCC, which is also chaired by the Home
Secretary, has responsibility for making the country more effective
in planning for, dealing with, and learning lessons from emergencies
and disasters, including those caused by terrorists. It is supported
by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) which has taken over
some of the emergency planning responsibilities previously exercised
by the Home Office.
6. The CCC has three sub-committees, CCC(CBRN):
CCC(LR) and CCC(UKR):
(a) CCC(CBRN) is chaired by the Home Office
Minister for State, John Denham. It reviews contingency and other
arrangements to protect the UK against the effects of a terrorist
attack using CBRN means;
(b) CCC(LR) is chaired by the Minister for
State for Local Government and the Regions, Nick Raynsford. It
reviews contingency arrangements for London, particularly in the
light of the terrorist attacks of 11 September;
(c) CCC(UKR) is chaired by the Parliamentary
Secretary for the Cabinet Office, Christopher Leslie. It reviews
contingency arrangements for key suppliers, services and other
systems which support the life of the community, particularly
in the light of the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
7. Any information on a possible threat
to the UK or UK interests is carefully assessed by the Security
Service, and this assessment is disseminated to the police and
relevant government departments who will respond accordingly.
The general level of the threat from international terrorism to
the UK and UK interests overseas is also kept under constant review.
8. At a strategic level, the Joint Intelligence
Committee considers issues which may affect UK security including
those related to international terrorism.
9. DOP(IT)(T) and its subordinate committees
are regularly updated on the threat from international terrorism
in order to inform the development of policy for preventive and
precautionary security measures in the United Kingdom.
10. The Home Office holds lead responsibility
for co-ordinating the response to the terrorist threat within
Great Britain. FCO takes the lead in responding to the threat
against UK interests overseas. But these departments do not stand
alone. The response to any terrorist incident relies on a co-ordinated
approach and the Government draws upon the resources of other
departments, the security and intelligence agencies, the police,
the Armed Forces, scientific and other specialist advice, local
authorities and the emergency services.
11. A terrorist incident is a crime. The
primary responsibility for responding to it lies with the Police
and the Police force in whose area the incident occurs would take
operational control and command of the incident at the scene.
12. The Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR),
managed by the Defence and Overseas Secretariat, is the national
crisis centre from which the central Government response to all
types of major crisis is co-ordinated. In a terrorist incident,
COBR is responsible for determining the Government's overall political
strategy, including responding to any political demands made by
the terrorists which is passed to the Police Incident Commander
at the scene. The Home Secretary would take the chair in response
to a terrorist incident in Great Britain. Ministers and/or senior
officials from other government departments with a significant
interest would also be present.
13. A team of Government officials would
be sent to the scene to assist and advise the Police Incident
Commander. MoD also has a range of specialist capabilities, developed
both for conventional and counter-terrorist operations which can
be made available to the police on request.
14. Central government's initial response
to a major incident or disaster would come from the lead government
departmentfor example DEFRA would lead on environmental
contamination. DTI would lead on an accident at a nuclear power
plant, DTLR would lead on transport accidents. The role of the
CCC, supported by the CCS, is to provide the central focus for
the cross-departmental and cross-agency commitment, co-ordination
and co-operation necessary if the country is to deal effectively
with disruptive challenges and crises.
15. In the event of a terrorist incident
likely to have grave consequences for the UK with which a single
lead department would be unlikely to be able to cope, the CCS
would activate its co-ordination centre in parallel to the central
preventive arrangements in COBR. Planning and support teams would
be established, and there would be a direct channel of communication
with any CCS staff in COBR. Staff from other government departments
would be called in to advise on departmental contingency plans
and provide technical advice on the response to the threat. Results
would be fed back to COBR.
16. We believe we have effectiveand
co-ordinatedstructures and procedures for responding to
a terrorist attack, or the threat of such an attack. But we are
not complacent. All those involved in our counter terrorist machinery
are keenly aware that the arrangements in place must deliver the
best possible safeguards for the UK and its wider interests.