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Merchant Shipping (Terrorism)

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what capacity the Royal Navy has available to protect merchant shipping in UK waters from possible terrorist attack. [111310]

Within the United Kingdom, terrorism is a crime and is therefore the responsibility of the police. The Home Office are the lead Government Department for terrorist matters and the Department for Transport for transport issues. The terrorist threat in UK waters, as in the UK itself, is kept under constant review. The Royal Navy has a number of graduated response options available to assist the civil authorities in the protection of merchant shipping in UK waters, depending on the level of threat. These range from routine advice and guidance to merchant shipping to more proactive measures, including RN support to the Police, HM Customs and Excise or other civil power, if necessary. Forces available are drawn from those routinely tasked with the maintenance of the integrity of UK waters. In addition, specialist Ministry of Defence elements with dedicated maritime counter terrorist roles are kept at high readiness.