CONTEST

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Concept.png CONTEST 
CONTEST.jpg
Type strategy
Subpage(s)CONTEST/2
CONTEST/Prevent

CONTEST is the official name of the United Kingdom's Counter-Terrorism Strategy. It was launched in 2003 and revised and re-implemented in March 2009. It is still usually referred to as CONTEST, even though some refer to it as CONTEST 2.

CONTEST is based on 4 work streams - Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare. Prevent and Pursue "reduce the threat from terrorism" and Protect and Prepare "reduce the UK’s vulnerability to attack".[1]

The overarching objectives of CONTEST are:

"to reduce the risk from international terrorism, so that people can go about their daily lives freely and with confidence." [2] and to "address the recent resurgence in international terrorism, which remains the greatest current threat both in this country and to [the UK's] overseas interests”.[3]

Official narrative

The CONTEST strategy claims to be based on the following principles which reflect the United Kingdom commitment to 'shared values': [4]

  • Protection of Human Rights
  • Rule of law
  • Prosecution of terrorists and terrorism related offences
  • Addressing and tackling causes and symptoms
  • Prevent people from supporting & becoming terrorists
  • Pragmatic response to meet new nature of threat (technological, CRBN)
  • Dependence and cooperation with domestic and international allies & partners.

CONTEST 1 & 2

The differences between CONTEST 1 and CONTEST 2 are premised on the following ideas:[5]

  • It is more comprehensive and wider in relation to all four work streams, especially the Prevent and Pursue strands;
  • It is more focused on addressing the changing nature of the threat that faces the UK, notably, the threat of home-grown terrorism;
  • It is closely coordinated and linked with counter-insurgency work overseas, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan, and
  • It is more focused on the threat of Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear (CBRN) threats.

Prevent

The Prevent component of CONTEST is based on "people becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism". It is sometimes referred to as Preventing Violent Extremism or PVE. The objectives of the Prevent strand are: [6]

  • To challenge the ideology behind violent extremism and support mainstream voices
  • Disrupt those who promote violent extremism and support the places where they operate
  • Support individuals who are vulnerable to recruitment, or have already been recruited by violent extremists
  • Increase the resilience of communities to violent extremism, and
  • Address the grievances which ideologues are exploiting.

Supporting Objectives:

Allegations of Spying

In October 2009, The Guardian reported that Preventing Violent Extremism was being used "to gather intelligence" on "political and religious views, information on mental health, sexual activity and associates, and other sensitive information" on people that are "not suspected of involvement in terrorism".[7] The Director of the Human Rights organisation Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, "branded [PVE] as the biggest spying programme in Britain in modern times and an affront to civil liberties".[8]

The Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism responded to spying allegations to a PVE Select Committee Hearing by stating:

“For the avoidance of doubt, surveillance is not part of the Prevent programme and intelligence gathering is not a feature of the Prevent programme. It does not say so in the strategy and does not say so in our guidance documents. What we have said is what you get.” [9]

Pursue

The Pursue strand of CONTEST is based on "pursuing terrorists and those that sponsor them" and "reducing the terrorist threat to the UK and to UK interests overseas by disrupting terrorists and their operations".[10]. This is done through the following avenues: [11]

  • Increasing the ability and capacity of detection and investigation by increasing the size and resources of the Police and the Security and intelligence Services;
  • Increasing the effectiveness of the prosecution process by introducing new laws and new offences;
  • The developing of more effective non-prosecution methods/actions such as Control Orders and revoking of citizenship;
  • Improving the ability and capability to disrupt oversees terrorism; and
  • Increasing and improving coordination & cooperation between Pursue stakeholders, through projects such as Operation Rich Picture

Protect

The Protect strand of CONTEST is based on reducing the UK's vulnerability, at home and abroad, in case a terrorist attack cannot be thwarted. This is done by "reducing the vulnerability of:[12]

  • The Critical National Infrastructure
  • Crowded Place
  • The Transport System
  • The UK's Borders.
  • Monitoring and improving the security of hazardous material
  • Through the National Identity Scheme, through the introduction of biographic and biometric systems."

Prepare

The Prepare component of CONTEST is premised on the idea of limiting the effects of an attack that cannot be prevented and ensuring the UK is prepared for the consequences of a terrorist attack. It aims to do this by: [13]

  • Identifying the potential risks the UK faces from terrorism and assessing their impact;
  • Building the necessary capabilities to respond to any attacks; and
  • Continually evaluating and testing our preparedness – e.g. by frequently exercising to improve our response to incidents and learning lessons from incidents that do take place.

Departments Involved in CONTEST

The following is a list of departments that are involved with CONTEST work, or related activities: [14]

Cabinet Office | Foreign and Commonwealth Office | GCHQ | Government Offices | Department for Communities and Local Government | HM Treasury | JTAC | Ministry of Defence | Ministry of Justice | Police | Prime Ministers Delivery Unit | Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) | Security Service (MI5) | UK Border Agency (UKBA) | OSCT | Northern Ireland Office | Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure | Crown Prosecution Service | Department for Culture, Media and Sport | Department for Children, Schools and Families | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills | Department for International Development (DFID) | Department for Transport | Department for Health | Devolved Adminstrations |  

Related Document

Use the Up/Dn symbols to sort

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Unthinking extremism - Radicalising narratives that legitimise surveillancepaper26 October 2015Ben Harbisher


References

  1. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Executive Summary, p.13, accessed 26.03.10
  2. Countering International Terrorism: The United Kingdom's Strategy July 2006, HM Government, p.9 - accessed 26.03.10
  3. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Part 2, Section 7, p.59, accessed 26.03.10
  4. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Executive Summary, p.12-13, accessed 26.03.10
  5. See Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Part 1, Section 4, pp.36-¬40, accessed 26.03.10
  6. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Part 2, Section 9, p.82, accessed 26.03.10
  7. Government Anti-Terrorism Strategy Spies on Innocent 16 October 2009, the Guardian - accessed 25 November 2009
  8. Government Anti-Terrorism Strategy Spies on Innocent 16 October 2009, the Guardian - accessed 25 November 2009
  9. Ev.76, Q371 by Andy Slaughter to Mr Charles Farr, Communities and Local Government Committee, Preventing Violent Extremism, Sixth Report of Session 2009-10, 19 January 2010. Printed on 16.03.10 – accessed 24.04.10
  10. Countering International Terrorism: The United Kingdom's Strategy, July 2006, HM Government, See p.2 and p.1 - accessed 26.03.10
  11. See Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Part 2, Section 8, pp.63-69, accessed 26.03.10
  12. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Part 2, Section 10, p.105, accessed 26.03.10
  13. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, HM Government, March 2009, Part 2, Section 11, p.118, accessed 26.03.10
  14. Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering International Terrorism HM Government, March 2009, see Annex B: pp.159-61, accessed: 25.03.10