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Safeguarding Britain's national security

An armed British police officer (© Getty images)Terrorist attacks underline that the threat to the UK, British Nationals and our interests abroad, is current and very real.

The vast majority of these threats come from outside the UK and cannot be tackled by focusing efforts in the UK alone. We must address those threats before they manifest themselves on our shores.  

FCO co-ordinates and helps deliver HMG work to counter terrorism overseas. We work under the cross-government Strategy for Countering International Terrorism (CONTEST). The aim of CONTEST is “to reduce the risk from international terrorism so that people can go about their daily lives freely and with confidence”, and it has 4 work-streams:  

  • PREVENT terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism
  • PURSUE terrorists and those that sponsor them
  • PROTECT the public, key national services, and UK interests overseas
  • PREPARE to respond to an attack to lessen its impact.

These are commonly referred to as the 'Four Ps'.


We help prevent people becoming or supporting terrorists or violent extremists in the UK and abroad.

We’re doing this by:

  • deterring people who assist or encourage terrorism and by changing the environment in which the extremists can operate
  • challenging the ideologies that extremists use to justify violence by helping people who wish to dispute these ideas to do so.


We are working to detect and investigate terrorist networks and disrupt their activities .

We’re doing this by:

  • improving our ability to identify and understand the terrorist threat
  • disrupting terrorist activity and taking action to frustrate terrorist attacks 
  • bringing terrorists to justice through prosecution – this  includes strengthening the legal framework against terrorism 
  • developing international co-operation with partners and allies to strengthen our ability to work together to disrupt terrorist networks.


We seek to reduce the vulnerability of this country and its interest overseas from terrorist attack . 

We reduce vulnerability by:

  • providing accurate FCO travel advice on the threat from domestic and international terrorism, with advice for British companies abroad
  • supporting key foreign governments to develop their ability to protect areas such as aviation and maritime security, energy infrastructure, crowded places and ‘soft’ targets.


We are working to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack where it cannot be stopped  This includes work to manage an ongoing attack and recover from its aftermath.

We ensure this by:

  • preparing the FCO network to respond to terrorist attacks
  • supporting key foreign governments to develop their ability to respond to terrorism 

Counter Terrorism Powers Review

To ensure that our activities remain focussed, targeted, and appropriate, we have committed to review a number of aspects of CONTEST:

The purpose of the review is to look at the issues of security and civil liberties in relation to the most sensitive and controversial counter-terrorism and security powers and, consistent with protecting the public and where possible, to provide a correction in favour of liberty.

For more information please see the Home Office website

Prevent Review

The PREVENT programme overseas focuses on stopping people becoming radicalised and undermining support for violent extremism. The FCO working HMG partners is supporting projects throughout the world to reduce the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from international terrorism.

Prevent will remain a paramount strand of the UK’s counter terrorism strategy. We continue to ensure that Prevent efforts overseas are effective and properly focused.