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The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)

The JIC is part of the Cabinet Office and is responsible for providing Ministers and senior officials with co-ordinated interdepartmental intelligence assessments on a range of issues of immediate and long-term importance to national interests, primarily in the fields of security, defence and foreign affairs. The Committee periodically scrutinises the performance of the Agencies in meeting the collection requirements placed upon them.

Membership

The JIC's members are senior officials in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence (including the Chief of Defence Intelligence), Home Office, Department of Trade and Industry, Department for International Development, Treasury and Cabinet Office, the Heads of the three intelligence Agencies and the Chief of the Assessments Staff. Other Departments attend as necessary.

The Permanent Secretary, Intelligence, Security and Resilience chairs the JIC. He is responsible for supervising the work of the JIC and is charged specifically with ensuring that the Committee's warning and monitoring role is discharged effectively. Like the Agency Heads, he has direct access to the Prime Minister.

Assessments Staff

The JIC is supported by the Assessments Staff, which consists of a range of analytical staff seconded from various departments, services and disciplines. It is responsible for drafting assessments of situations and issues of current concern, for providing warnings of threats to British interests, and for identifying and monitoring countries at risk of instability. Its staff draw on a range of reporting, primarily from the Agencies but also including UK diplomatic reporting and open source material.

The Assessments Staff works closely with the Agencies and other government departments in analysing and interpreting the reporting. Its draft assessments are subject to formal interdepartmental scrutiny in Current Intelligence Groups, which bring together experts from a range of government departments and the Agencies. The JIC agrees most assessments before they are circulated to Ministers and senior officials, although some papers, including urgent updates on developing issues, are issued under the authority of the Chief of the Assessments Staff. The latter also has an advisory oversight role of the programme of strategic assessments undertaken across Government in the security, defence and foreign affairs fields.

Like the three Agencies and the DIS, the Assessments Staff maintains its own contacts with analogous overseas intelligence organisations. Such liaison arrangements allow access to information and analysis that might otherwise not be available. In the case of countries with which the UK has military alliances or faces a common threat, information is shared so that decisions can be taken on the basis of a common perception.

Professional Head of Intelligence Analysis

The post of Professional Head of Intelligence Analysis was established within the the Cabinet Office in 2005, as part of the Government's response to Lord Butler's Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction[External PDF, 37KB, 16 pages]. The main tasks are to advise in the security, defence and foreign affairs fields on gaps and duplication in analyst training, on recruitment of analysts, career structures and interchange opportunities. A priority is the further development of analytic methodology and training for all analysts working in these fields.

Assessing international terrorism: The JIC and JTAC

The JIC (through the Assessments Staff) and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre both play an important role in analysing and assessing international terrorism. JTAC sets threat levels and issues timely threat warnings as well as more in-depth reports on trends, terrorist networks and capabilities for a wide range of customers. JIC assessments of terrorism are more strategic and place JTAC assessments in a broader geopolitical context for Ministers and senior officials.

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