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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
Counter-terrorism centre unveiled
Bombed bus in Tavistock Square, 7 July 2005
The bombings prompted a rethink by security services
A new centre designed to co-ordinate the government's technical response to terrorist threats and attacks in the UK and abroad is due to be unveiled.

The Counter-Terrorism Science and Technology Centre will involve experts from government, industry and academia.

They will look at developing new technology such as robots to disarm explosives and devices that can detect harmful substances after a blast.

Defence Secretary John Reid said the unit would be a "world class hub".

The unit - dubbed a 'one-stop shop' by the Ministry of Defence - will be based at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down, Wiltshire.

'One step ahead'

BBC defence correspondent Gordon Corera said the centre would look at the technical response to events such as the 7 July bombings in London, and threats to British armed forces overseas.

This would include developing ways to detect traces of radiological, chemical or biological substances after an explosion.

He said the unit would share information across government departments.

Everything should be done to ensure the UK was equipped to deal with incidents at home and abroad, said John Reid.

"This new centre will provide a world class hub to ensure government laboratories, industry and academia are used as efficiently as possible to enhance innovation and keep one step ahead of evolving terrorist threats," he said.

Centre director Ken Brigden will oversee about 15 specialist staff.

He said: "Terrorist threats evolve rapidly so the centre will respond not just to current threats, but also anticipate threats as they emerge and develop."

At the weekend the Tories renewed calls for an independent London bombings inquiry after a report said the Home Office had found no direct link to al-Qaeda.

A narrative by a senior civil servant will say the attacks were planned on a shoestring budget and not by a global terror network, the Observer reported.

Tory shadow homeland affairs minister Patrick Mercer says an independent probe is needed to avoid a "whitewash".

But the government said such a move would divert police and security resources.

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