Project CONTEST: The Government's Counter-Terrorism Strategy - Home Affairs Committee Contents


1. The Government developed its first comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, known as CONTEST, in early 2003. Initially a slender document, it was an attempt to coordinate the pan-Governmental response to the emerging terrorist threat in the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, DC, in September 2001.

2. The revised version of CONTEST was published on Tuesday 24 March 2009. It was a significantly larger document than its predecessor, in line with the Government's stated desire to be as open as possible on counter-terrorism and security matters and to put as much information as possible into the public domain.[1] In addition to the publication of a very full document, the Home Office is planning a series of events across the country to engage with and explain the strategy to groups, organisations and agencies who will be involved in its delivery.

3. On 25 November 2008, the Home Affairs Committee decided to appoint a sub-committee to examine the Government's existing counter-terrorism strategy, from policy to delivery, and the ongoing work to 'refresh' the strategy and produce what was colloquially known as 'CONTEST 2'.

4. During our inquiry, we held three evidence sessions. The first session, concentrating on threats to London's transport infrastructure, was with Tim O'Toole, Managing Director of London Underground, and Nick Agnew, Safety and Contingency Planning Manager, Transport for London.[2] We then took evidence from Assistant Commissioner Robert Quick, Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police Service. Part of each of these evidence sessions was held in private, to allow us to explore issues of operational sensitivity. Finally, we held a wholly private evidence session with Charles Farr, Director-General, and Gillian McGregor, Head of Operational Support and Knowledge Management, Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. We then agreed with the Home Office a redacted version of the transcript from the evidence session which we have published.

5. In addition to the oral evidence sessions, we visited Transport for London's Network Operation Centre and the British Transport Police's Force Response Centre London at St James's Park, and the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office. We would like to thank everyone who helped with this inquiry.

1   HC Deb, 24 March 2009, col 170 Back

2   Mr O'Toole announced in February 2009 that he would step down as Managing Director of London Underground at the end of April. Back

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