British national security 'weak'

British national security has 'major weaknesses'
British national security has 'major weaknesses'

There are "major weaknesses" in the government's national security structures, a report out today claims.

A group of security commissioners headed by former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown and ex-Nato secretary general George Robertson claim that Britain has failed to adequately improve national security despite escalating threats in recent years.

The wide-ranging report - which covers organised crime, conflicts around the world, energy security and climate change impacts in addition to counterterrorism - says the government was mistaken to claim existing policies were sufficient to cover the newly-described threat in its 2004 national security strategy.

A "major gap" still exists between the problems and challenges faced and the action being pushed through at present, it warns.

The report also says "major weaknesses in the machinery of government related to national security" continue to exist and calls for a more coherent plan in a world where joined-up solutions are increasingly popular.

"We would argue that much more can and should be done to demonstrate the UK's seriousness of purpose on nearly all of the issues with which we are concerned," it states.

The report also laments the divided positions between Britain's main political parties on security issues - from debate over pre-charge detention for terror suspects downwards.

Appealing for unity, the report adds: "There is a need now for government, opposition parties and everyone else to seek out and develop a national consensus to underpin the UK's response to terrorism.

"We are a divided country in this area at a time when we really cannot afford to be."

The 16 commissioners brought together by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank include former chief of the defence staff Lord Guthrie, former Acpo president Sir Chris Fox and Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.


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