Protect is the workstream of the counter-terrorism strategy that aims to strengthen our protection against terrorist attacks in the UK or against our interests overseas, and so reduce vulnerability.

Objectives of Protect

From 2011-2015 our Protect objectives are to:

  • strengthen UK border security
  • reduce the vulnerability of the transport network
  • increase the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure
  • improve protective security for crowded places

Borders and aviation security

We support the Home Secretary in her cross government role for preventing and protecting against terrorism in the UK. Specifically we aim to harden the UK as a target and terrorist environment through strengthened border security and addressing aviation security vulnerabilities.

Our key aims are to:

  • strengthen security of our borders in conjunction with key departments and agencies to reduce vulnerabilities from terrorism
  • ensure safety and security of those travelling on aircraft through effective security and policing
  • adopt a stronger more focused cross-departmental approach to improving aviation security

Cargo aviation security

We aim to improve cargo aviation security through leading the implementation of recommendations in the aviation security review.

We will also develop an integrated approach for aviation and border security with the Department of Transport and the UK Border Agency to better co-ordinate systems and processes across the range of public and private sector organisations involved in aviation and border security checks.

Passenger aviation security

We will make changes to pre-departure checks to better identify people who pose a terrorist threat and prevent them from flying to or from the UK.

We will reduce the vulnerability of the public to terrorist attack through necessary, proportionate and effective use of existing port and border security measures.

We will also ensure that the operation and continued development of ports and borders policing and border controls fully reflects counter-terrorism requirements and priorities.

The pre-departure checks scheme

The government has given commitments, in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, 'to make changes to pre-departure checks to identify better people who pose a terrorist threat and prevent them flying to or from the UK' and, in CONTEST, to 'use secondary legislation to deny airlines authority to carry to the UK foreign national passengers included on our no fly list'.

Our border control systems, such as the visa regime and e-Borders, allow us to check passengers against our watchlists in advance of their arrival in the UK. We have introduced a pre-departure checks scheme to build on these and prevent individuals who pose a terrorist threat from travelling to or from the UK.

Under the pre-departure checks scheme:

  • airlines providing passenger information to e-Borders will be denied authority to carry specified foreign nationals to the UK (see below)
  • directions will be given under the Aviation Security Act 1982 to prevent boarding of British nationals who pose a direct terrorist threat to an aircraft
  • alerts will be sent from the National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC) to ports police to prevent boarding individuals who pose a terrorist threat from boarding flights from the UK

The security and travel bans authority to carry scheme

The scheme came into effect in July 2012. The scheme and related Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Authority to Carry) Regulations 2012 require air passenger carriers providing data to e-Borders to seek authority to carry all passengers within the scope of the scheme. Carriers who fail to seek authority to carry, or who carry to the UK an individual they were denied authority to carry could face a fine of up to £10,000.

Under the scheme, authority to carry will be refused in respect of the following persons, who would be refused leave to enter at the border:

  • EEA nationals (and accompanying/joining third country national family members of EEA nationals) who are the subject of an exclusion or deportation order because they pose a threat to public security
  • Third country nationals who have been excluded from the UK on grounds of national security
  • Third country nationals who are the subject of a deportation order on grounds of national security
  • Third country nationals who have been or would be refused a visa because of national security
  • Individuals listed by the UN or EU as being subject to travel restrictions due to their associations with Al Qaeda or the Taliban

Reduce the vulnerability of the transport network

OSCT work with the Department for Transport, who lead on counter terrorist security on the transport network, to assess the programmes of work which are in place to better understand the vulnerability of the sector and critical assets to terrorist attack, and to ensure these vulnerabilities are reduced to an acceptable and proportionate level.

Increase the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure

The UK’s national infrastructure are those facilities, systems, sites and networks necessary for the functioning of the country and the delivery of essential services upon which daily life depends. These nine essential services comprise: communications, emergency services, energy, finance, food, government, health, transport and water (each overseen by one or more Government departments).

Each Government department is responsible for setting the security approach for the sector for which they lead, working with OSCT and other partners to progress the Protect programme and increase resilience of the infrastructure.

Improving the protective security of crowded places

Terrorists will target places where an attack can cause many deaths and casualties. Crowded places at risk of attack can be protected through a combination of measures such as bollards and other physical design features to reduce the vulnerability to an attack by limiting access for heavy vehicles for example.

The National Counter-terrorism Security Office, network of Counter Terrorism Security Advisers, and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure engage with organisations in the public and private sectors to provide generic and bespoke protective security advice.

Guidance and advice on the design and planning of public spaces and the built environment is also available.

Further information

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