terrorist exercise programmes in the world, is planning a major joint
counter-terrorist exercise with the USA, home secretary David
Blunkett has announced.
The exercise will involve participation at a senior level on both
sides of the Atlantic, to allow us to share best practice on
emergency planning and response on a practical level, and to ensure
that we are fully prepared for such a scenario.
In addition, the home secretary announced that the secretary of state
for transport, Alistair Darling, is finalising plans for a
counter-terrorist exercise on London Underground. The exercise will
take place by the autumn; a further announcement will be made nearer
The Home Office has also published details of ongoing work on
terrorism and security, and added new content to its terrorism website. As part of the home secretary's
commitment to give the public clear, up-to-date information on
terrorism, it includes new pages on exercises and on warning and
informing the public about terrorist threats. Since its launch, the
terrorism website has received around 326,000 page viewings.
Speaking ahead of his closing speech in the Intelligence
and Security Debate, Mr Blunkett said:
'Exercises are essential to our work on counter-terrorism. They allow
us to test systems thoroughly, train frontline responders, and
highlight vulnerabilities. Our exercise programme leads the way in
counter-terrorist planning and is one of the best in the world;
hijacks, chemical and biological attacks and nuclear devices have
featured in recent scenarios.
'In the past these have generally been conducted in private. These
major exercises mark a new direction towards more complex, larger
scale exercises, with greater public involvement, which will add a
new dimension to our ability to deal with terroris m and potential
'There is no need for work to be duplicated in different countries
when we are all working towards the same aims. We already co-operate
closely with the US on emergency planning and response; we are
closely involved in each other's exercise programmes, and we have
implemented similar systems for analysing and disseminating
'By pooling our resources, we are doing more in a practical way to
protect all our citizens from the threat of global terrorism. Our
experience of fighting terrorism over the last 30 years means that we
have a lot to offer the US, just as we have a lot to learn from them.
'Jack Straw, Alistair Darling and I are clear that we need to treat
the public like adults. The public have a right to know about what we
are doing to fight terrorism, and also understand that some
information needs to be kept secret, to protect the lives of those
who work hard behind the scenes. As we have always made clear, if
there is ever a need to issue a specific warning, we will do so
without hesitation. Public safety is our absolute priority.'
The joint exercise was agreed at the meeting of the joint contact
group of senior counter-terrorism officials in Washington on 13 June.
The group agreed to work towards a date in 2005 for the exercise,
which will require detailed and complex planning to ensure that all
participants gain as much as possible from it.