Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Brown unveils security strategy

Security at Westminster
Terrorism is among the threats which have been looked at

Gordon Brown has set out plans to deal with national emergencies such as terror, disease pandemics and flooding.

The National Security Strategy also proposes that the "national register of risks" be made available to the public.

The prime minister said the number of security service staff would rise to 4,000 and that there would be new moves to secure the UK against cyber-attacks.

He also said there would be a 1,000 person civilian task force to be sent to trouble-spots around the world.

This would include police, emergency services and judges and would be put on standby to help failing states and countries emerging from conflict.

Commitment bonus

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Brown said Britain would use diplomacy to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world.

Among other changes, he also said there would be 15,000 payments for military personnel staying on for an extra five years and a 20m fund to help armed forces purchase homes.

National 'register of risks'
Increase security services personnel to 4,000
Civilian task force to be sent to trouble spots
Efforts to reduce numbers of nuclear weapons around the world
15,000 bonus to long-serving armed forces staff
Regional counter-terrorism centres to help police
Moves to protect UK from cyber-attacks
Review of role of reserve forces

Four regional counter-terrorism units and four regional intelligence units would be set up to help the police.

Meanwhile, the government has launched a review of the role of the Territorial Army and other reserve forces.

Mr Brown said threats to Britain had "changed out of all recognition" in recent years and that tactics had to alter accordingly.

"Our new approach to security also means improved local resilience against emergencies, building and strengthening local capacity to respond effectively in a range of circumstances from floods to possible terrorism incidents," he said.

"Not the old Cold War idea of civil defence but a new form of civil protection that combines expert preparedness for potential emergencies with greater local engagement of individuals and families themselves."

Mr Brown also announced reforms of the Intelligence and Security Committee, a parliamentary body which oversees the security services MI5 and MI6, and other areas.

The best way to protect ourselves from terrorist attacks is to treat other people around the world with respect
Paul, Rotherham

He promised "greater transparency" and said the ISC's role would become more like House of Commons select committees, which hold their sessions mainly in public rather than in secret.

Extreme weather

But Conservative leader David Cameron said the prime minister's statement had "sounded more like a list than a strategy".

He called for a US-style National Security Council, arguing the strategy would "only work if put in place and carried out properly".

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said Mr Brown's review was more an assessment of what threats existed than a "strategic overview of how those threats will be tackled".

He added: "We all know our armed forces are over-stretched, over-committed and under-resourced... it is high time that [Mr Brown] announces urgently a new full strategic defence review for our defence capabilities for today and the years ahead."

video and audio news
Gordon Brown sets out the 'National Security Strategy'

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific