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Operations centre opened at new combined counter terrorism hub

Dedicated forensics facility due to open at Empress State Building later this year

The operations suite of the new Counter Operations Centre (CTOC) has now been opened in West London with a dedicated forensic facility designed for fast moving CT investigations due to open later this year.

The facility will allow investigators the opportunity to access some of the most advanced forensic science capabilities in the world, and the ability to do so in a much quicker and streamlined way according to the Met.

The new CTOC will continue to be built and developed within the Empress State Building in West Brompton over the next four years. Gradually, different functions, teams and organisations will move into the centre, in a phased approach designed to limit disruption to operational capability.

CTOC is part of the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism and organised crime hub, which it started work on in 2018 and was set up with £412 million from the force and the London Mayor.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently pledged tens of millions for the state-of-the-art facility in his spending review to house CT senior officers and intelligence service staff under the same roof.

The 2018 investment included the £250m purchase of a site in London and a significant upgrade project to make the building and associated sites fully secure and fit for purpose. 

The idea then was to bring together the Met’s counter-terrorism command and specialist crime and operations under one roof,

The move was made to focus on a single site, and dispose of other buildings,

The London-based elements of CT policing will now be based in CTOC housed on the same site.

The development of the CTOC emerged in plans drawn up in the wake of MI5 and police reviews carried out after the terror attacks in London and Manchester in 2017.

A report from Lord Anderson, the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, found that the police and security services should improve their collaboration and share intelligence more widely.

The new centre will provide a facilty for intelligence agencies and senior CT police officers to work together to disrupt threats.

It said it would also install “smarter working practices and cultures, rationalising processes and structures, and boosting innovation with new forms of collaboration.”

The CTOC will be a new part of the overall UK CT response – bringing together, for the first time, all the London-based CT elements in one place.

The first completed section of the new CTOC was visited on Monday, 28 June by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. 

They were shown the new operations suite by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu and the Director General of MI5, Ken McCallum. The Mayor and Home Secretary also met and spoke with staff and officers who will be working from the CTOC.

Commissioner Cressida Dick said: "The need for closer collaboration between agencies is something that came out of the review that I and the Director General of MI5 committed our organisations to undertake following the devastating terrorist attacks in 2017. I’m delighted that we’re seeing the tangible outcomes from that review.

“The opening of the new operations suite marks another significant step on the journey to delivering this world-class facility here in London and I would like to thank both the Mayor of London and the Government for their continued support with this project. 

Ken McCallum, Director General for MI5 said: “Finding concealed threats is a difficult job. We’re always looking for ways to shave the odds in our favour. 

"We know our chances of success are better when we combine the knowledge and the skills of experts from different organisations, fighting terrorism as a single team. CTOC is a massive next step on that journey – a world first.

“CTOC is built around the needs of the public, not the convenience of institutions.”

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