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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

UK to extend national security strategy to organised crime and 'corrupt elites'

Britain to use 'whole of government' approach in wake of Salisbury chemical attack

Army officers remove the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found in Salisbury after extreme exposure to a rare nerve agent. EPA/WILL OLIVER
Army officers remove the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found in Salisbury after extreme exposure to a rare nerve agent. EPA/WILL OLIVER

Britain is designing a counter-terrorism strategy to help disrupt plots in their early stages and tackle organised criminals, including "corrupt elites".

The plan, outlined on Tuesday in the National Security Capability Review, is designed to improve Britain’s response by using a "whole-of-government" approach.

The strategy is part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s blueprint for British security based on a so-called Fusion Doctrine, a plan to utilise every UK government ministry and agency to tackle threats ranging from terrorist attacks to the reckless use of chemical agents on the streets of Salisbury.

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The March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter led to calls for Britain to take immediate action against Russia, including freezing the assets of London-based Russian oligarchs named by the US as Vladimir Putin’s cronies.

Downing Street said Britain’s new, holistic approach to national security will extend to tackling serious and organised crime – including disrupting “high-harm” organised crime groups and “corrupt elites”. It will also be integrated into plans for the creation of a national economic crime centre in partnership with the private sector, which will coordinate operational responses across UK agencies.

The UK has pledged to expand its National Security Communications Team to combat misinformation and better integrate communication into the government’s strategy.

“Over the past year in the UK we have witnessed appalling terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. But also a brazen and reckless act of aggression on the streets of Salisbury: attempted murder using an illegal chemical weapon, amounting to an unlawful use of force against the UK,” Mrs May said in the introduction to the security review.

“Based on the new Fusion Doctrine, this approach will ensure that in defending our national security we make better use of all of our capabilities: from economic levers, through cutting-edge military resources to our wider diplomatic and cultural influence on the world’s stage. Every part of our government and every one of our agencies has its part to play.”

The doctrine draws on lessons learned from Sir John Chilcot’s report, which focused on the UK’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq war and government policy decision-making between 2001 and 2009. The new strategy aims to create a more accountable system to support collective cabinet decision-making based on analysis drawn from information inside and outside of government.

Economic goals and capabilities will be integrated for the first time by increasing the involvement of economic departments in developing the security strategy. The UK will also strengthen its overseas network of embassies, high commissions and other missions to underpin international engagement, Downing Street said.

The NSCR also committed to continuing a £1.9 billion (DHR9.8bn) National Cyber Security Strategy to keep pace with threats, including utilising the National Cyber Security Centre. The NCSC was set up to help protect critical services from cyberattacks and improve the underlying security of the UK internet.

“As long as we defend our interests and stand up for our values, there will continue to be those who seek to undermine or attack us. But these people should be in no doubt that we will use every capability at our disposal to defeat them,” Mrs May said.