Head of Counter Terrorism, Matt Jukes, reflects on the threats our nation faces and how the National Security Act, with its updated powers, is crucial in keeping the public safe from hostile state actors:
Today sees the implementation of the new National Security Act.
For those of you reading this who work in policing, this signals that new legislation which will help us tackle the evolving threat from foreign states, is now live.
For the wider public, this sentence will probably have a little less bearing on your day.
However, putting the inevitable policing jargon to one side, this new legislation is significant for the safety and security of the UK, now but also in the years to come.
The work we are doing at Counter Terrorism Policing is changing.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a sharp rise in threats projected into the UK by hostile state actors.
By this, we mean we are seeing the regimes of foreign nations, threatening individuals, or in some cases, whole communities that have simply made the UK their home.
It can also mean foreign states seeking to infiltrate organisations and businesses, or interfere with democratic, financial or academic institutions for their own gain.
Around 20% of our casework at Counter Terrorism Policing now focuses on missions outside of terrorism; we are now doing a lot more than the name on our tin suggests.
Some cases will spring to mind easily, the Salisbury poisonings in 2018, the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 – others include recent plots by Iran, to assassinate, kidnap or kill people here in the UK.
These moments might feel distant from day to day life but ultimately we all do feel the impact, as they are a challenge to our way of life.
The places we go, the places we work, the freedom we enjoy.
Although we can’t always talk in a lot of detail about our work, what I can say is that policing plays a central role in protecting our communities from these threats.
That is why Counter Terrorism Policing has worked closely with the UK government and our intelligence partners over the last three years to make sure the National Security Act provides policing with the powers it needs to deter, detect, and disrupt this type of activity.
Until now, we have been using laws created in the early 1900s to tackle a modern day challenge, made up of not only real-world threats, but also those enabled by the digital world.
Measures within the Act mean that policing will now have stronger avenues to detect, disrupt and prosecute state actors who carry out acts of espionage, foreign democratic interference, spreading disinformation, and assassinations.
It brings enhanced powers of detention for suspects, new offences and investigative powers that will help us gather stronger evidence to build cases for prosecution.
In short, new options for new threats.
The Act will also introduce a new Foreign Influence Registration scheme, which aims to improve our understanding of the influence of foreign powers in UK politics and the activities of specified powers, groups or individuals.
Having been fully immersed in the Act’s creation, we have been able to prepare our people, our officers and our staff, but we also have a clear idea of how the legislation will strengthen our work to keep you safe.
We all have a role in this, public support can make a difference.
You know your home, your neighbourhood, your networks.
You know when something doesn’t feel right.
Always report your concerns, in confidence at gov.uk/ACT.
In an emergency call 999.