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Updated CONTEST strategy published

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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) pilots

As part of our refreshed counter-terrorism strategy we are piloting new operational approaches to help address the shift in the threat we face.

We are working with a broad range of partners to establish a series of experimental Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) pilots. The pilots aim to test different models to better understand risk around individuals who have previously been subject to active national security investigations, in recognition that some of these people may continue to pose a risk.


  • Last year’s attacks highlighted the challenge of detecting individuals who may be inspired to commit terrorist acts in the UK, and the pace at which plots can move to acts of violence.
  • This places a renewed importance on our understanding of those individuals who are known to the police and the security and intelligence agencies due to their possible links to terrorist-related activities.
  • Two of last year’s attackers had been, but were no longer, subjects of active national security investigations. The MI5 and police post-attack Operational Improvement Review recommended security services should share intelligence more widely, and work with partners such as local authorities on how best to manage continued risk posed by those no longer under active national security investigation.
  • In response to this recommendation we are establishing pilots in London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester to test new multi-agency approaches.

Key information

  • The pilots will be concerned with a small number of specific individuals who are already known to police and security services but who may not currently be the subject of an active investigation.
  • Information is only being shared where it is deemed necessary and proportionate for national security purposes and the pilots will not replace, nor duplicate, existing CT investigations or activity.
  • MACs will allow data to flow from the police and security agencies to the partners who are best placed to safeguard and support the individual.
  • The pilots will help to build a more detailed understanding of an individual’s needs and risks with the aim of identifying appropriate interventions to address those vulnerabilities and ensure that the individual does not engage in terrorism.
  • By providing a greater number of agencies with better information, we will improve coordination of interventions to address those safeguarding concerns and risks.
  • While the pilots are primarily aimed at support, where information emerges that an individual may pose a risk to themselves or others and immediate intervention is required the police will, as always, be responsible for managing those risks directly.
  • We recognise that the shift in the nature of the terrorist threat requires us to work across the different strands of the CONTEST strategy to prevent, detect and disrupt terrorist attacks. The MAC pilot reflects increasing collaboration and learning between different elements of the Counter-Terrorism system, including Prevent and Pursue.
  • The Channel programme aims to safeguard individuals from becoming drawn into terrorism. While the objectives are similar to Channel, the MAC pilots focus on a specific cohort of known individuals with some degree of historic involvement with terrorist-related activity, necessitating a separate approach to Channel in order to manage any associated risks.
  • 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: Desistence 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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