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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 07:17 GMT
UK security policy 'out of date'
Armed police
An annual threat assessment should be published, the report says
Britain's national security framework is "incoherent" and "outdated", research by a think tank has warned.

The Demos pamphlet calls for a national security secretariat to tackle threats to the UK in a "joined-up" manner.

Author Charlie Edwards said that the government's approach was rooted in the Cold War era and focused on terrorism to the exclusion of other dangers.

The Cabinet Office said the proposals would be considered as part of the government's ongoing security review.

Meanwhile, a poll by Ipsos Mori suggests 62% believe that Britain is under greater threat of violent attack than at any time since the Second World War.

Pool information

The report argues that the UK's security infrastructure has failed to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century, leaving the nation vulnerable to the dangers of international terrorism, organised crime and nuclear proliferation.

It criticises a lack of co-operation between government departments, and urges a radical shake-up to help ministers and officials from across Whitehall work together more effectively.

Mr Edwards said the government suffered from "Cyclops syndrome", focusing on terror at the expense of other threats.

"Privately I have heard from a number of people that the government is taking its eye off the ball when it comes to issues such as organised crime, for example," he said.

"The forthcoming national security strategy is a step in the right direction but its aim must be to transform our outdated and compartmentalised national security architecture."

Unless we have joined-up government on national security, we will be vulnerable through the cracks
Charlie Edwards

The national security secretariat which it proposes would include the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, and parts of the Security and Intelligence Secretariat.

Government agencies should also use wiki software to pool intelligence, the report recommends.

This type of software allows internet pages to be created and edited using a common web browser.

Efforts should be made to make the system more transparent and accountable, it adds.

To help achieve this, it suggests, an annual threat assessment of the main security issues facing the UK should be published each year.

The report follows a year's research by Demos, in the course of which interviews were conducted with 60 politicians, senior civil servants, police officers and intelligence officials.

Mr Edwards said: "Unless we have joined-up government on national security, we will be vulnerable through the cracks."

Shortly after taking office, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the government would set an annual single security budget and publish a national security strategy.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said the Demos proposals would be considered as part of this.

The Ipsos Mori poll suggested that violent street crime, terrorism and serious organised crime are considered by the public as the greatest threats to the UK.

Just a third (33%) of Britons thought that any political party had the best policy to safeguard national security.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,138 adults aged over 18 across Great Britain during April 2007.

Which three of these topics do you find most worrying in Britain?

  1997 2003 2007
Crime and violence 68% 50% 51%
Immigration control 15% 44% 45%
Terrorism 21% 42% 33%
Health care N/A 40% 30%
Education N/A 23% 21%
Poverty and social inequality 39% 23% 20%
Threats against environment 19% 14% 17%
Taxes 12% 18% 17%
Unemployment (and jobs) 45% 12% 12%
Maintaining welfare state 25% 17% 11%
Corruption/financial/political scandals 15% 11% 10%
Don't know 1% 0% 2%

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