UK government urged to better prepare for 'high-impact threats'

Vaccine supply chain needs to be protected as part of critical infrastructure, former counterterrorism chief says

British airports are among the most secure in the world, a counterterrorism expert has said. PA
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The UK government has been urged to change its approach to protecting critical national infrastructure against terrorism.

Tom Hurd, a former director general for the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, said recent crises were set to affect how the authorities tackled threats including terrorism.

How the country recovers from an incident is as important as prevention, he said.

“In the world of counter-terrorism the risk of low-likelihood high-impact threats is long and includes the use of chemical weapons, biological weapons and nuclear, in particular in publicly accessible locations,” Mr Hurd said.

“We need to be able to recover fast and ideally better from setbacks, especially any attacks on critical national infrastructure.”

Speaking on Tuesday at an event in London hosted by insurance company Pool Re, Mr Hurd said it was striking that even during the Covid-19 pandemic polls showed the British public viewed terrorism as the most serious threat to their safety.

He said there must be a greater emphasis on building resilience within society against threats.

“The government will soon publish a national resilience strategy and ... I expect within it, there will be a commitment to redefine what critical national infrastructure is because we now live in an information pandemic climate age," he said.

Mr Hurd said the vaccine supply chain and service providers who supported the digital economy were now part of national infrastructure and needed to be protected.

“Airports are a key part of our critical national infrastructure,” he told The National.

He said UK airports were “world leaders” in terms security and appeared confident in the systems in place to protect them against terrorism.

He said he believed British airport chiefs were “very, very aware” of the need to protect the infrastructure they are responsible for.

He referred to an incident in December 2018 when drones grounded planes at Gatwick Airport as an example of how airports responded “very, very quickly to new threats”.

Updated: October 11, 2022, 12:53 PM
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