Letter A


Association of Chief Police Officers. ACPO coordinates policing policies on behalf of 43 forces across England and Wales. It liaises with Government on dealing with civil emergencies and terrorist incidents. The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) works to ACPO and provides a co-ordinating role for the police service in regard to counter-te

ks to further these aims. (See:Al Qaida and other terrorist groups).


Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. Parliament passed the ATCSA in December 2001 in response to the heightened threat of terrorist attacks in the UK in the wake of 11 September 2001. The Act includes a range of measures designed to increase the effectiveness of the authorities in combating those directly involved in, or supporting, terrorism. (See: Anti-terrorist legislation).

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rrorism and protective security.




Terrorist organisation headed by Usama bin Laden. Al Qaida is also used as an umbrella term to cover a number of groups who broadly support Usama bin Laden's aims and are willing to engage in terrorist attac

Letter B


Bomb Shelter Area. Internal area that offers protection from blast, flying glass and other fragments.


Intrusive surveillance whereby an eavesdropping device is installed in a target's home or car. There is a strict regime governing the use of this investigative technique. (See:intrusive surveillance).


The means of ensuring that the essential functions of a business survive a terrorist or other incident, such as natural disaster.

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Letter C


Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear. CBRN materials can be used in terrorist attacks or in military weapons under state programmes.


UK Government Computer Emergency Response Team (see UNIRAS).


Communications Electronics Security Group. CESG is the Information Assurance arm of GCHQ which provides advice and assistance on the security of communications and electronic data. It works with Government departments and agencies and the Armed Forces, as well as public and private sector companies.


Covert Human Intelligence Source (agent). An important source of secret intelligence. Agent operations are run by specially trained officers and can continue for long periods. (See: CHIS).


Continuity Irish Republican Army. (See Dissident Irish Republican terrorist groups).


Critical National Infrastructure. Those assets, services or systems that support the economic, political and social life of the UK whose importance is such that any loss or compromise would have life-threatening, serious economic or other grave social consequences for the community, or would be of immediate concern to the Government.


Criminal Records Bureau. The CRB is an executive agency of the Home Office. By providing wider access to criminal record information through its Disclosure service, it helps employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors identify candidates who may be unsuitable for certain work.


Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (new window). An organisation formed from the merger of the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) and the National Security Advice Centre (NSAC). CPNI, which was launched on 1 February 2007, is responsible for providing integrated security advice to the businesses and organisations which make up the national infrastructure.

Counter Terrorism.


Counter Terrorist Security Advisors (see NaCTSO).

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Letter D


Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence (Senior Security Service Officer in Northern Ireland).


See RDD.


Defence Intelligence Staff (see MOD).


Data Protection Act 1998. The DPA gives individuals the right to apply for access to personal data relating to them held by public and private sector organisations. The Act contains a provision for certain exemptions from compliance with all or some of the principles and requirements, for example for the safeguarding of national security. (See Intelligence work and access to information).


Department of Trade and Industry. The DTI aims to assist UK businesses at home and abroad. Its Export Control Organisation handles applications for licences to export controlled military and dual-use technology from the UK and therefore helps to prevent the proliferation of WMD to countries of concern.

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Letter E


European Convention on Human Rights (see also Human Rights Act). (See: Compliance with ECHR).


Environmental Information Regulations. Came info force on 1 January 2005 and allow members of the public to request environmental information from public authorities. The Security Service is subject to the Regulations, but exemptions can be used when necessary.(See: Access to information).


Spying. Several countries are actively seeking British information and material to advance their own military, technological, political and economic programmes. Terrorists may also seek to infiltrate organisations and gain access to potentially useful information and systems. (See: The threat from espionage).


European Police Office. Europol is the European law enforcement organisation which aims to improve effectiveness and co-operation among Member States to prevent and combat terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international organised crime.

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Letter F


Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The Government department responsible for foreign affairs. FCO's travel advice draws on information from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre at Thames House. The FCO website provides travel advice on over 200 countries.


Freedom of Information Act. Came into force on 1 January 2005 and allows members of the public to request access to information held by public authorities. The Security Service is not subject to the Act. (See: Access to information).

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Letter G


Government Communications Headquarters. GCHQ is an intelligence and security organisation which reports to the Foreign Secretary. Through its signals intelligence work, GCHQ supports Government decision-making in the fields of national security, military operations and law enforcement.

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Letter H


An umbrella term encompassing all attempts at unauthorised access to computer systems, including malicious software, malicious modification of hardware and denial of service (DoS). (See: IT security).


Any type of portable bomb, usually contained in a form that would blend easily with the target surroundings, for example, suitcases, handbags, briefcases, video cassette boxes. (See: Hand-carried bombs).


HM Revenue and Customs. HMRC is the Government department with responsibility for collecting VAT revenue, customs duties and certain other taxes. It also plays a key role in protecting the UK from illegal imports of drugs, alcohol and tobacco smuggling and tax fraud.


Human Rights Act 1998. The Human Rights Act incorporates into UK law rights and freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Since coming into force in October 2000, the Act has made rights from the ECHR enforceable in UK courts.

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Letter I


Improvised Explosive Device. (See: Bomb protection).


Interception of Communications Act 1985 (replaced by RIPA).


Intelligence Services Act 1994. The ISA established the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a committee of Parliamentarians charged with oversight of expenditure, administration and policy of the three security and intelligence agencies (the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ). (See:Oversight and legislation).


Intelligence and Security Committee. Established under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to examine expenditure, administration and policy of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ. (See: Parliamentary oversight).

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Letter J


Joint Intelligence Committee. The JIC advises on priorities for intelligence collection and assesses performance against them. It is also responsible for assessing and giving early warning of external developments and threats likely to affect British interests. (See: National intelligence machinery).


Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. JTAC is the UK's centre for the analysis and assessment of international terrorism. It is a self-standing organisation comprised of representatives from eleven government departments and agencies. (See:Organisation).

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Letter K


The first Director General of the Security Service. (See: History).

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Letter L


Law Enforcement Agency.


Explosive, chemical, biological or radiological device delivered by post or courier. (See:Letter bombs).




Large Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device. See also VBIED. (See: Vehicle bombs).


Loyalist Volunteer Force. (See: Loyalist terrorist groups).

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Letter M


Management Board. (See: Organisation).


Ministry of Defence. The role of the Ministry of Defence, and the Armed Forces, is to defend the UK, and overseas territories, its people and interests, and work to strengthen international peace and security. The Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) of the MOD is part of the UK's central intelligence machinery.

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Letter N


National Counter Terrorism Security Office. A specialist police organisation co-located with the Security Service in the National Security Advice Centre (NSAC). NaCTSO co-ordinates a nationwide network of specialist police advisors known as Counter Terrorist Security Advisors (CTSAs) who can offer help on counter terrorism security.(See: Role of the police).


National Audit Office. The NAO scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament. (See: Funding).


National Criminal Intelligence Service. NCIS works on behalf of all the UK's law enforcement agencies, providing a range of intelligence products and services to aid the fight against serious and organised crime. It is also the co-ordinating authority on behalf of police forces in the UK for the tasking of the Security Service in respect of the Service's work on serious crime. (See: Working against serious crime).


National Crime Squad. The National Crime Squad's role is to combat national and international serious and organised crime, typically drug trafficking, immigration, illegal arms trafficking, money laundering, counterfeit currency, kidnap and extortion.


Northern Ireland Office. The NIO works to secure a lasting peace in the Province, based on the Good Friday Agreement. The Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence (Northern Ireland) reports both to the Director General of the Security Service and to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.


National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre. NISCC is an inter-departmental organisation which co-ordinates and develops work to defend the CNI against electronic attack. It works with Government departments and agencies as well as organisations in the private sector. NISCC also runs UNIRAS, the UK Government Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). (See:IT security).


National Security Advice Centre. Part of the Security Service, NSAC works to protect key Government assets and the UK's Critical National Infrastructure (see CNI), such as transport, power and water, and to reduce their vulnerability to terrorism and other threats. (See: Providing security advice).

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Letter O


Official Secrets Act 1989. Members of staff joining the Security Service are obliged to sign the Official Secrets Act.

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Letter P


Plastic Explosive. (See: UVIEDs).


Public Interest Immunity. In criminal trials, prosecuting Counsel may apply to the judge for authority to withhold material from the defence if disclosure would cause damage to the public interest. Such applications take the form of a claim for public interest immunity. (See: Evidence and disclosure).


Provisional Irish Republican Army. (See:Provisional IRA).


Public Records Act 1958. The Security Service complies with the requirements of the Public Records Act 1958 in identifying records of historical interest for permanent retention and eventual transfer to The National Archives (previously the Public Record Office). In practice, this means selecting files for retention that would otherwise have been destroyed. (See: Retention and destruction of files).


Police Service of Northern Ireland (formerly Royal Ulster Constabulary or RUC).


Public Telephone Number. The Security Service public telephone number (020 7930 9000) is available for anyone wishing to help the Service by providing information relevant to our work. (Information about imminent threats to life or property should be reported to the Police on 999 or via the Anti-Terrorist Hotline (0800 789 321)).

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Letter R


Radiological Dispersion Device. Commonly known as a "dirty bomb", designed to disperse radioactive material, with or without explosives.(See: Background on CBRN materials)


Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. RIPA replaced IOCA 1985 as a statutory basis for the interception of communications. It introduced new regulation for covert surveillance and the use of covert human intelligence sources. It also established a Commissioner for Interception, a Commissioner for the Intelligence Services and a Tribunal to examine complaints and hear proceedings under section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998.(See: Oversight and legislation)


Real Irish Republican Army. Dissident Irish Republican terrorist group. (See: Dissident Irish Republican terrorist groups).

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Letter S


Special Branch. Each police force has its own Special Branch. Special Branch has a specialist intelligence function in relation to national security, in particular countering terrorism and extremism.


Single Intelligence Account.  The SIA carries the budget provision for all three security and intelligence agencies (namely the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ).  The Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator is the accounting Officer of the SIA.  (See: Funding).


Special Immigration Appeals Commission. The court established under the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 to hear appeals against deportation on national security grounds.  (See: Evidence and disclosure).


Secret Intelligence Service. SIS, commonly known as MI6, is responsible for obtaining secret information and conducting operations in support of the UK's foreign policy objectives, and to counter threats to UK interests worldwide.


Serious Organised Crime agency. SOCA, which will be operational from April 2006, will bring together existing agencies to create a single, intelligence-driven specialist organisation focussed on combating organised crime. (See: Working against serious crime). 


See Espionage.


Security Service Act 1989. The SSA, as amended in 1996, placed the Service under the authority of the Home Secretary. It sets out the functions of the Service and the responsibilities of the Director General.  (See: Oversight and legislation).


Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.  (See: The threat from espionage).

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Letter T

Terrorism Act 2000

The Terrorism Act 2000 covers the proscription of terrorist groups throughout the UK, the appeals process by which a proscription order may be challenged, offences relating to terrorist property and finance and police counter-terrorist powers. (See: Anti-terrorist legislation).

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Letter U


Ulster Defence Association.   (See: Loyalist terrorist groups).


Unified Incident Reporting and Alert Scheme. UNIRAS, part of NISCC, works to gather information on IT security incidents in Government departments and agencies, producing periodic analysis and assessment of incidents and trends. It also issues alerts and briefings on matters of IT security concern.(See: IT security).


Head of Al Qaida, which has been responsible for a number of major terrorist attacks over recent years, most notably the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks in the US in September 2001.(See: Al Qaida and other terrorist groups)


Ulster Volunteer Force. (See: Loyalist terrorist groups)


Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device. Booby-trap car bombs designed to kill the driver or passenger.(See: UVIEDs).

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Letter V


Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device. A car or van filled with explosive, driven to a target and detonated. (See: Vehicle bombs).




Victim Operated Improvised Explosive Device or booby-trap bomb. See also UVIED.

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Letter W


Weapons of Mass Destruction. WMD encompasses nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.(See: The threat from proliferation).

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