UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced to set aside millions of pounds to establish a “world-leading” Counter Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC) based in London.
As part of a Spending Review for the next year’s budgetary plans tabled in Parliament on Wednesday (25), the Sunak said he would allocate an additional £400 million to help recruit 20,000 more police officers by 2023, with 6,000 new officers in 2021-22; 63 million pound to tackle economic crime; and £337 million extra funding for the criminal justice system, which will include the new CTOC — expected to be fully operational within five years.
“Our police and intelligence agencies do an extraordinary job every day to protect us all from terrorist activity,” Sunak said.
“Bringing these partners together to form a world-leading operations centre will enable them to work more collaboratively to disrupt threats – allowing the government to deliver on its first and foremost duty to keep the public safe,” he said.
UK home secretary Priti Patel added: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our police, intelligence agencies and criminal justice system who work tirelessly every single day to keep us safe from terrorism. This world-leading new centre will fully integrate their wealth of knowledge and expertise to ensure that we are responding to the range of threats this nation faces as quickly and effectively as possible.”
Scotland Yard has welcomed Sunak’s announcement of setting up of the state-of-the-art facility, which would coordinate expertise and resources, including combatting hostile state activity and organised crime.
“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,” said assistant commissioner Neil Basu, the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing at the Metropolitan Police.
“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,” Basu said.
The first parts of the new building are expected to be completed as early as next year.
The Met Police said the development of the CTOC was born out of a series of terrorist attacks in 2017, which killed 36 people and caused injury and life-changing impacts to many others. The attacks and the subsequent operational improvement review highlighted the need to further develop the UK”s counter-terrorism response.
“The need to further develop our capability has been emphasised by attacks here in the UK in the past year 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,” the Met Police said.
The UK’s largest police force said that having a CTOC in London will enable co-location of the London-based elements of counter-terrorism (CT) policing, the intelligence agencies, and the criminal justice system, as well as other government agencies focused on tackling the threat from terrorism. An integrated, partnership-driven approach within a purpose-built working environment – the CTOC is designed to bring the “right people, skills and technology” together to protect the UK.
“It will help us install smarter working practices and cultures, rationalising processes and structures, and boosting innovation with new forms of collaboration. The CTOC will be a new part of the overall UK CT response – bringing together, for the first time, all the London-based CT elements in one place,” the Met Police said.