Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Renewed counter-terrorism strategy to strengthen UK response [July 2023]

The press release issued by the Home Office on 18 July 2023.

The government has today (18 July) launched CONTEST 2023, a refreshed approach to the evolving and enduring threat from terrorism.

With nine declared terrorist attacks since 2018 and 39 late-stage attacks disrupted since 2017, terrorism remains a top national security risk and priority.

The UK’s primary domestic threat comes from Islamist terrorism, with the remainder predominantly driven by extreme right-wing terrorism.

For more than twenty years, the CONTEST strategy has sought to reduce the threat of terrorism in the UK and to its interests overseas.

CONTEST 2023 sets out the UK’s bolstered approach to a domestic terrorist risk that is once again rising and becoming increasingly less predictable. The updated strategy also addresses a persistent and evolving overseas threat from Islamist groups, and exploitation of technology by terrorists.

CONTEST 2023 will continue to counter the threat at every stage across Prevent, Pursue, Protect, and Prepare – from protecting against and mitigating the impact of terrorist attacks, to stopping people from becoming terrorists by curtailing radicalising influences.

Islamist terrorism is currently the largest terrorist threat faced by the UK in volume making up around three quarters of MI5’s caseload. Extreme right-wing terrorism almost exclusively represents the remaining threat.

Across ideologies, the threat is dominated by individuals or small groups acting outside of organised terrorist groups, making it harder to detect and investigate.

Building upon existing partnerships across government, policing and the intelligence agencies, as well as with the private sector, the public and international partners, CONTEST 2023 sets out a clear vision for an agile, integrated and aligned approach. A collective and coordinated response will ensure we have all levers at our disposal against modern threats.

Together, we are:

  • Fully operationalising the Counter Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC), bringing together teams, data and technology to more efficiently and effectively identify, investigate and disrupt terrorists.
  • Delivering William Shawcross’ Independent Review of Prevent and implementing the recommendations to help stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. This includes improvements to our ability to detect and counter radicalising influences which spread extremist ideology.
  • Better connecting the counter-terrorism system with expertise in healthcare, education, social services and the criminal justice system, ensuring a broader range of interventions to divert people away from terrorism or mitigate the threat posed by a potential terrorist.
  • Acting upon the findings of the Manchester Arena Inquiry to close vulnerabilities in our response to terrorist attacks.
  • Implementing Martyn’s Law to ensure better protection for people in public places.
  • Tackling terrorist exploitation of the internet through engagement with tech companies and delivering the Online Safety Bill.
  • Deepening our international counter-terrorism partnerships, including the US, other Five Eyes members and our European partners, aligning our strategic approaches so that we can maximise the effectiveness of our capabilities and develop new ones to keep our people safe.
  • Strengthening our border through the Future Border and Immigration System Programme, making our border a critical line of defence against terrorism.
  • Continuing to place victims and survivors at the heart of counter-terrorism policy by fully understanding their lived experiences and by reviewing and reforming the support we give them.

Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said:

Any death or injury resulting from terrorism is a tragedy, and the impact on survivors, witnesses and wider society is immeasurable.

The terrorism risk we face today is rising and becoming harder to detect. This is why the transformational changes and vital partnerships set out in CONTEST 2023 will modernise our approach and make us all safer.

The safety and security of our people is the leading duty of government; terrorism will not prevail.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, Matt Jukes said:

The Counter Terrorism Operations Centre is a clear marker of the continued collective commitment to tackle the enduring terrorist threat.

Our mission to keep the public safe cannot be achieved by one organisation alone and we are pleased that CONTEST underlines the importance of collaboration.

Together with our partners, counter-terrorism policing will always strive to enhance our response, keeping the safety of the public at the very heart of our efforts.

Whilst sustained counter-terrorism pressure from the UK and its allies has suppressed the most serious terrorist threats, Islamist terrorist groups based abroad are persistent and evolving.

Their capabilities remain far below earlier peaks, but there are signs of resurgence by groups such as Daesh and al-Qa’ida, which continue to seek to plan and enable attacks in western countries, including the UK.

Our global relationships provide a foundation which can jointly address the risks we face from international terrorism.

Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said:

Our approach to countering terrorist threats is having an impact. Alongside our allies, we have suppressed a great number of the most serious threats in the last five years.

We continue to adapt our approach to tackling the evolving and enduring threats.

The UK will continue to work in close collaboration with key allies to tackle these new threats and keep our people safe.

CONTEST 2023 has been developed by the Home Office, working with a range of government departments, police and the intelligence agencies.

Terrorism experts, academics, public organisations, the private sector and the public were consulted to provide insight and challenge, to ensure that CONTEST continues to robustly defend the public from the terrorist threat.