Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 12:08 UK

UK terror strategy to be updated

Armed police
The government's terrorist threat level is at the high end of severe

The government is updating its counter-terrorism strategy to focus more on preventing the radicalisation of Muslims, the BBC has learned.

Officials are increasingly aware of a threat from loners unconnected to al-Qaeda who have become radicalised.

A top priority for the government's strategy, known as Contest, will be reducing the supply of terror recruits.

Working with local communities and dealing with the role of the internet will be key to the updated strategy.

The government's terrorist threat level has remained pegged at its second highest rating - severe - since last summer.

'Severe' threat level

Senior Whitehall officials say the police and security service are working near capacity and the threat level is unlikely to be reduced soon.

They say that it currently lies at the high end of severe, with no sign of it being downgraded.

There is an increased awareness that threats are coming not just from core al-Qaeda in Pakistan, and affiliated groups based in north and east Africa, but also from loners and groups unconnected to al-Qaeda.


The government's counter-terrorism strategy is based on what officials call the "Four Ps": 'prevent, pursue, protect and prepare'.

Since the 9/11 attacks on the US, ministers have invested heavily in the 'pursue' element, through a complete overhaul of counter-terrorism planning.

Police investigations are co-ordinated through Scotland Yard with permanent counter-terrorism units operating out of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

MI5, which provides the intelligence that underpins police investigations, has also launched regional teams working much more closely with detectives than in previous times.

Officials have also invested heavily in the 'protect' strategy, including forging close links with businesses to ensure that potential targets are better protected.

Arsenal's Emirate's stadium in north London is among a number of new buildings which has tough security measures embedded in its design to minimise the risk of a massive attack.

However, questions have been asked about the range of work done on the 'prevent' aspect of strategy - with some critics saying that there have been too few projects delivering tangible results.

Some Muslim groups have accused the government of a misguided approach to preventing extremism, with claims that ministers are targeting the wrong people - and failing to address youngsters' real concerns.

Officials says the updated strategy will mean 'prevent' will no longer be seen as the weak link in the chain.

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