The first elements of the new U.K. Counter Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC) in London have been unveiled. The CTOC will be a new part of the overall U.K. counterterrorism response, which for the first time will bring together all the London-based counterterrorism operations in one place.
The new center includes a cutting-edge counterterrorism operations suite which is now fully operational and a dedicated counterterrorism forensics laboratory to follow soon.
The first completed section of the new CTOC, which is being housed within the Empress State Building in West Brompton, was visited on June 28 by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. They were shown the new operations suite by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu and the Director General of MI5, Ken McCallum. The Mayor and Home Secretary also met and spoke with staff and officers who will be working from the CTOC.
Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “The need for closer collaboration between agencies is something that came out of the review that I and the Director General of MI5 committed our organizations to undertake following the devastating terrorist attacks in 2017. I’m delighted that we’re seeing the tangible outcomes from that review.”
Ken McCallum, Director General for MI5 said: “Finding concealed threats is a difficult job. We’re always looking for ways to shave the odds in our favor. We know our chances of success are better when we combine the knowledge and the skills of experts from different organizations, fighting terrorism as a single team. CTOC is a massive next step on that journey – a world first.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel explained that the CTOC unites partners from Counter Terrorism Policing, the intelligence agencies and the criminal justice system to ensure that they can discover and disrupt threats more quickly to better protect the public.
“This is just one of the steps we’re taking to protect the British people from terrorism. We’ve also tightened sentencing for terrorist offenders, strengthened the supervision of terror offenders on licence, ended the automatic early release of terrorist prisoners and are consulting on the proposed Protect Duty,” said the Home Secretary.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my top priority and that means supporting our police and security services so they have the tools and resources to protect our city from the constantly evolving threat of terrorism. The new Counter Terrorism Operations Centre brings expertise and capabilities together in one place for the first time and I’m pleased the £412 million of investment from City Hall and the Metropolitan Police helped make this national hub a reality, working to keep London and all of the U.K. safe.
As well as visiting the new operations suite, the Mayor and Home Secretary were shown around what will be the dedicated counterterrorism forensics laboratory, which will be part of the new CTOC. The facility, which is due to open later this year, will allow investigators the opportunity to access some of the most advanced forensic science capabilities in the world, and the ability to do so in a much quicker and streamlined way.
The new CTOC will continue to be built and developed within the Empress State Building over the next four years. Gradually, different functions, teams and organizations will move into the center, with this phased approach allowing current operational capability to continue uninterrupted.
The development of the CTOC was born out of a series of terrorist attacks in 2017 which killed 36 and caused injuries and life-changing impacts to many more people. The attacks and the subsequent operational improvement review – which was independently assured by Lord Anderson – highlighted the need to further develop the U.K.’s counterterrorism response to ensure it continues to adapt to an evolving threat.
That need has been emphasized by further attacks both in the U.K. and across Europe in the past two years, as well as by the 29 deadly attack plots which have been successfully disrupted in the U.K. since 2017.