News story

Theresa May on counter-terrorism priorities

The Home Secretary made her first major speech on counter-terrorism saying tough decisions will be taken to protect the British public.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speaking at independent think tank RUSI, the Home Secretary outlined her plans to deal with the threat of terrorism, which she called ‘more diverse and more fragmented than ever’.

Theresa May said that her priorities are to:

  • enhance protective security measures
  • invest in conflict prevention and stopping overseas terrorist plots
  • refocus the UK strategy for preventing radicalisation
  • strike a better balance between liberty and security

Urgent review of freight security

She said that lessons will be learned following the recent airline bomb plot: ‘the specifics of the attack - notably the type of device and how it was concealed - were new to us.’

As a result, all aspects of freight security will be urgently reviewed, and updated guidance will be issued to airport security personnel.

The threat has changed

The Home Secretary explained that the nature of the terrorist threat has changed in recent years. Although Al Qaeda is ‘weaker than at any time since 9/11,’ other groups now ‘aspire to attack us’.

Pointing to affiliate Al Qaeda groups in North Africa, Somalia and Yemen, she explained: ‘We see the continued emergence of a more diverse and devolved terrorist threat, without a strong, directive and commanding centre and joined more by ideology than hierarchy.’

Spending review

Theresa May confirmed that all funding for core counter-terrorist capabilities in policing and other agencies will be maintained. Over £2bn has been allocated for counter-terrorism policing alone in the next four years.

There will also be increased investment in police firearms capability in order to deal with the threat of a Mumbai-style attack in the UK.


Published 3 November 2010