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Updated CONTEST strategy published

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This page was revised 19 March 2020 to update the fact sheet on the Multi-Agency Centre

At a speech in central London today, the Home Secretary unveiled the Government’s updated counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST.

Delivering his first keynote speech on security to an audience of community leaders, academics and counter-terrorism experts, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

As Home Secretary my priority will always be to keep our country safe. The threat from terrorism is one of the starkest we face and it is clear there has been a step change.

The biggest threat is from Islamist terrorism particularly from Daesh, but extreme right-wing terrorism is also an increasing threat. Both exploit grievances, distort the truth, and undermine the values that hold us together.

As the threat evolves so must our response. Ultimately, our approach is about ensuring that there are no safe spaces for terrorists to operate – internationally, in the UK or online.

Our greatest strength lies not only in what we do but who we are and the values and freedoms we hold dear. That is why everyone has a part to play in confronting terrorism. I want to say to all those who stand up against all forms of extremism that this government stands with you. I stand with you. But there is more for us all to do.

The strategy has been published on GOV.UK, along with the Home Secretary’s speech and a press release.

The strategy gives information on new pilots, launched following the joint Police and MI5 Operational Improvement Review, as well as the Desistence and Disengagement Programme, a new element of the Government’s Prevent work. More information about both of these pieces of work can be found below.

Fact Sheet: Multi-Agency Centre (MAC)

As part of our counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST we tested new operational approaches to address the shift in the threat we face.

The Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) works in partnership to better understand the national security risk posed by individuals who are or have been subject to national security investigations, in recognition that some of these people may continue to pose a risk.

The MAC brings together existing expertise within the Counter-Terrorism community, including Prevent and Pursue and works in partnership with experts in offender management, social care and safeguarding. Bringing these fields together helps make MAC a new capability to reduce the national security risk posed by these individuals.


  • The 2017 terror attacks in London and Manchester highlighted the challenge of detecting and stopping individuals inspired to commit terrorist acts in the UK.
  • This placed a renewed importance on our understanding of those individuals who are known to the police and MI5 due to their possible links to terrorist-related activities.
  • Two of the 2017 attackers had been, but were no longer, subjects of national security investigations. The post-attack Operational Improvement Review recommended MI5 share intelligence more widely, and work with partners such as local authorities on how best to manage any continued risk.
  • In response to this recommendation, we established Multi-Agency Centre pilots in London, the West Midlands and the North West to test multiple approaches to information sharing and multi-agency risk management.
  • MAC now operates centrally to co-ordinate and deliver appropriate and effective risk management plans for cases across the United Kingdom.

Key information

  • The MAC pilots were initially setup to test operational approaches for managing any ongoing risk posed by closed subjects of interest. Learning from the pilot phase demonstrated that the multi-agency approach had limited application for closed subjects of interests due to the historic nature of cases. However, the pilots also demonstrated that the MAC approach can be applied to closing cases and cases which are still subject to active national security investigation. Whilst closed subjects of interest can be referred to the MAC, the approach is primarily focused on closing cases and current cases.
  • The MAC is concerned with a small number of individuals who are known to the police and MI5.
  • Information is only shared where it is deemed necessary and proportionate for national security purposes. The MAC does not replace, nor duplicate, existing CT investigations or activity.
  • Information is shared for the purposes of developing a more holistic understanding of an individual’s risk of engagement in violent extremism and to help identify vulnerabilities which may present a national security risk.
  • The MAC will allow data to flow from the police and MI5 to the partners who are best placed to safeguard and support the individual.
  • The MAC helps to build a more detailed understanding of the risk posed by an individual, and their needs. By working in partnership, the MAC aims to identify appropriate risk management actions to address vulnerabilities and help reduce the national security risk.
  • By working collaboratively with partners, we enhance their collective ability to tailor risk mitigations in the most effective way.
  • The MAC is primarily aimed at reducing the national security risk and supporting individuals. The objective is to reduce vulnerability which, if unaddressed, may lead an individual to engage or re-engage with violent extremism. However, where an immediate risk is identified, existing, well-established counter-terrorism mechanisms will be used to address this risk.
  • We recognise that the constantly evolving threat requires us to work across the different strands of the CONTEST strategy to provide positive multi-agency interventions.
  • The Government is committed to doing everything possible to protect our communities from the threat of terrorism. It is vital that we use all the means at our collective disposal to divert people away from terrorist-related activity, and we will continue to explore the best ways of doing this with our partners.

Fact Sheet: Desistance and Disengagement Programme

As set out in the refreshed counter-terrorism strategy, the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) focuses on individuals who are subject to court-approved conditions, including all terrorism and terrorism-related offenders on probation licence, as well as those on Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures (TPIMs) and those who have returned from conflict zones in Syria or Iraq and are subject to Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs).

The programme aims to address the root causes of terrorism, build resilience and aid rehabilitation.
The programme is delivered in conjunction with a wide range of partners and agencies, including the Ministry of Justice, Police and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, as well as non-governmental organisations.


  • The DDP launched in October 2016, with an initial pilot focussing on those who have served prison sentences for terrorist offences, who were due to be released on licence. The programme expanded shortly thereafter to include those on Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures (TPIMs) and those who have returned from conflict zones in Syria or Iraq and are subject to Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs).
  • The programme provides a range of intensive, tailored interventions and practical support designed to tackle the drivers of radicalisation. Support could include mentoring, psychological support, theological and ideological advice.
  • These interventions are designed to provide the best possible means for these individuals to disengage from terrorism and reintegrate safely back into society.

Key information

  • It is vital that we allow individuals who have been involved in terrorist-related activity a route back into society in a safe and managed way.
  • Unlike the majority of programmes that make up part of the Prevent strategy, the DDP is mandatory in certain cases.
  • Where mandated for individuals subject to TEOs, TPIMs or probation requirements, non-compliance could lead to the possibility of being charged for breach of conditions or being recalled to prison.
  • The programme runs alongside existing statutory risk assessment and management processes such as the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), to ensure it bolsters existing provisions.
  • Terrorism cases are reviewed regularly with other key stakeholders to determine how best to continue managing the risk an individual presents, as well as supporting their rehabilitation.
  • The programme reflects increasing collaboration across different elements of the counter-terrorism system, notably Prevent and Pursue.

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