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National Security

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 14 November 2007

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced in his Statement on 25 July 2007 (col. 841) a review by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Security and Counter-Terrorism (Lord West) of how best we protect crowded places, transport infrastructure and critical national infrastructure from terrorist attack.

This review has been completed and shows that a substantial amount of work has been undertaken or is under way to increase levels of protective security in each of these three areas. It also identifies areas where further improvements could be made but recognises that we must ensure that protective security measures are proportionate to the risk.

We need to ensure that individuals and businesses are free to carry on their normal social, economic and democratic activities and, as a result, there will always be some vulnerability to terrorist attack. I do not intend to publish the review because I do not wish in any way to compromise our security. But I can mention some of the main points.

Crowded Places

Lord West has concluded that we need to make further improvements in reducing the vulnerability of crowded places to terrorist attack. This will be done by publishing next year, after further consultation, a new strategic national framework to encourage greater partnership working at the local level between local authorities, other local partners and in particular businesses. This will build on existing local partnerships such as crime and disorder reduction partnerships, and help local partners to incorporate counterterrorist security advice into their existing work to improve community safety.

Local police counterterrorism security advisers (CTSAs) already provide general counterterrorism protective security advice in person to businesses, communities and other stakeholders. The Government will strengthen their work by investing a further £1.5 million in counterterrorism security adviser posts from April 2008 which will enable more protective security advice to be provided at the local level to both the public and private sectors.

We are also raising the profile of protective security at a local level by including an indicator on “protection against terrorist attack” in the single set of national indicators for local authorities and local authority partnerships, published on 11 October. Following consultation, we intend to bring into effect during 2008-09 a standard way for police counterterrorism security advisers to assess vulnerability and other relevant factors which will enable local partnerships to prioritise their work and assess progress.

Professional protective security guidance is a crucial part of this approach. The police National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) has already produced guides to improving protective security by business sector. Guides aimed at sports stadia, pubs, clubs and bars, shopping centres and high streets and visitor attractions have been produced and distributed to businesses in these sectors and copies are available from

Other protective security guidance for cinemas and theatres, restaurants and hotels and the education and health sectors will be produced by April 2008. Guidance for major events, which will include open- air events and festivals, religious sites/places of worship and commercial centres will be produced by July 2008.

In addition, we will make improvements to the planning process, as identified by the honourable Member for Newark, Patrick Mercer, in his contribution to the review, so that more is done to protect buildings from terrorism from the design stage onwards. For example, new initiatives have been identified with the support of relevant professional bodies to raise the awareness and skills of architects, planners and police architectural liaison officers in relation to counterterrorism protective security.

Transport Infrastructure

The review has acknowledged the effectiveness of the security programme that has already been implemented across the transport sector. This focuses on delivering security measures that help protect the travelling public and transport staff and facilities from terrorism threats, without impacting disproportionately on how the industry operates. While the regulated operators themselves deliver and fund these security measures, the Government regulate what these measures need to be. The report acknowledges the proportionality and practicality of our requirements and the extent to which the industry is involved in their development, as well as the challenges implicit in the “user pays” principle.

The report notes the significance of particular areas of work under way. In particular, the Government will issue further guidance to the aviation industry on measures that can be taken to provide an appropriate level of protective security at entry points to airports and terminals. We will also accelerate work to deliver better measures to protect railway stations from the risk of a vehicle attack. The Government's multi-agency threat and risk assessment (MATRA) approach that we employ across a range of transport modes will ensure that measures are co-ordinated efficiently.

Critical National Infrastructure (CNI)

The review showed that there is a high standard of protection of the critical national infrastructure from the threat of terrorism. Security specialists such as the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) are working effectively with government departments and the private sector to provide a proportionate level of protective security response commensurate with the different types of threat and risks affecting the CNI.

Nevertheless, the review has identified some specific improvements which could be made to the way in which we protect the CNI. For example, we intend to build on work already under way to implement a modernised approach to identifying and categorising critical infrastructure which takes full account of information networks as well as physical assets and of the interdependencies across sectors. This will enable better prioritisation and most effective use of resources to deliver security improvements across the national infrastructure where they are most needed.

The new approach will be in use across the majority of sectors by the start of the next financial year (2008-09). In addition, further CPNI work on measures to protect against vehicle-borne attack will be accelerated, and new research initiatives progressed.