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Counter terrorism

Our aim is to:Armed police

Reduce the risk from international terrorism, so that people can go about their daily lives freely and with confidence.

Since early 2003, we have been implementing a long-term strategy for countering international terrorism, known as CONTEST [PDF, 675KB]. In March 2009, we published the first major revision of the strategy Pursue, Prevent, Protect, Prepare [PDF, 1.2 MB]

The strategy has 4 strands:

  • PREVENT terrorism by stopping people becoming or supporting terrorists or violent extremists
  • PURSUE terrorists and those that sponsor them
  • PROTECT the public, key national services, and UK interests overseas
  • PREPARE for the consequences.

We call these the 'Four Ps': Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare.

We have short and long term objectives, at home and abroad to achieve this. We set and implement the strategy for overseas counter terrorism working with partners in the UK Government and civil society. 


Iraq electionWe aim to help prevent people becoming or supporting terrorists or violent extremists in the UK and abroad.

We’re doing this by:

  • supporting reform at home and abroad to tackle social disadvantages, inequality and discrimination that contributes to radicalisation
  • 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.

Learn more about our work preventing extremism.


UN peacekeeper keeps watch. © MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty ImagesWe are working to reduce the terrorist threat to the UK and our interests abroad, by disrupting terrorists and their operations.

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.

Learn more about our work to targeting terrorist activity


We seek to protect UK interests overseas from terrorism – they are often a target for attack.

We reduce vulnerability by:

  • providing accurate FCO travel advice on the threat from domestic and international terrorism, with advice for British companies abroad
  • physically protecting British diplomatic premises and staff 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.


The UK must be ready for the consequences of a terrorist attack.

We ensure this by:

  • identifying the potential risks the UK faces from terrorism and assessing the impact
  • building the capability to respond to an attack 
  • continually evaluating and testing we are well prepared – we identify lessons from exercises and real-life events.

We have short and long term objectives, home and abroad to achieve this. Download the full Contest report for the UK's strategy for countering international terrorism.

Preventing extremism

Our aim is to stop people becoming or supporting terrorists and violent extremists. Our Countering Terrorism & Radicalisation Programme supports the UK government's unified counter-terrorism strategy.

Targeting terrorist activity

By targeting their sources and supply of money we can significantly disrupt their ability to strike – this is a key strand to our overall strategy against terrorism.