Need for radical reform of national security architecture, argues new Demos report
Major new poll on national security
The UK’s national security architecture has changed little in the two decades since the Cold War and is now deeply flawed in design, argues a new report by Demos, to be launched today. The report examines threats to the UK – including serious organised crime, nuclear proliferation and international terrorism – and argues that radical reform of the structure and organisation of government, including the creation of a new national security secretariat, is needed to address these challenges.
The report is the outcome of a 12-month research project whose findings are based on over 60 in-depth interviews with key UK politicians, senior civil servants, intelligence officials and police officers. Nick Clegg MP will give a keynote response at the launch event at 12.30pm on 10/12 at the Commonwealth Club in London.
The study is also supported by a new poll by Ipsos MORI on public perceptions of threats to the country and the ability of political parties to deal with them.
According to the MORI poll:
· Violent street crime, terrorism, and serious organised crime top people’s list of the most dangerous threats to the UK;
· Only a third (33%) of the UK population thought any political party had the best policy to deliver national security;
· 59 per cent of the UK population felt they were generally safe in the UK today; but 62 per cent believed that Britain was now under greater threat of violent attack than at any time since the Second World War.
The author of the report, Demos’ Charlie Edwards, said:
“Successive British governments have rarely taken a strategic approach to national security. Decisions remain focused on short-term initiatives. Worryingly, the overall approach is becoming less – not more – coherent. Governments lurch from one crisis to the next, neither protecting people nor empowering them.
The forthcoming national security strategy is a step in the right direction but its aim must be to transform our outdated and compartmentalised national security architecture. Unless we have joined-up government o national security, we will be vulnerable through the cracks”.
· A national security secretariat should be created, to include the Overseas and Defence Secretariat, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, and parts of the Security and Intelligence Secretariat;
· Government must rethink its approach to national security to make it more effective and transparent. It must develop a comprehensive strategy to gain support both across the spectrum of UK political parties and the general public;
· Government should implement a cutting-edge intelligence-sharing programme based on the successful ‘Intellipedia’ software used in the United States. This uses ‘wiki’ technology to share information across relevant government departments, ending the culture of information silos;
· Government should make public an annual threat assessment of the primary security issues facing the UK.
- The report is the outcome of a 12-month research project supported by by the Cabinet Office, G4S Global Risks and Thales.
- The report will launch at 12.30pm on Monday 10 December 2007. The launch event will take place at the Commonwealth Club, 25 Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5AP. Nick Clegg MP will give a keynote address. Sir David Omand, visiting Professor at King’s College London and former UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, will speak at the event.
- The poll on public perceptions of national security was undertaken by Ipsos MORI in April 2007. Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,138 adults aged over 18 across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the known profile of the population.