Counter-terrorism inspections

Part of: Large-scale policing

Current events show the dynamic nature of terrorist threats and how it affects policing. The attacks of 2017 and the more recent attacks have highlighted the devastating loss of life.

The expectations of the public is that the police will keep the country safe. It is this primary reason for HMICFRS to engage in a programme of counter-terrorism inspections designed to provide that reassurance.

In 2015, HMICFRS commissioned the counter-terrorism insight programme that considered the changing threat posed by terrorism and international terror groups in particular. This programme seeks to establish the areas of highest risk identified by both the public and law enforcement agencies for counter-terrorism policing.

The findings from this work have shaped HMICFRS’s counter-terrorism work from 2016/17 onwards, leading to a series of counter-terrorism (CT) policing inspections.

HMICFRS’s work on counter-terrorism is designed to identify best practice and help improve CT policing and the management of risk at the highest levels.

Previous inspections

To date, we have inspected 4 areas of counter-terrorism:

  • CT1: An inspection of police counter-terrorism commanders – 2016.
  • CT2: The command and control arrangements and supporting infrastructure used by the police forces of England, Wales and Scotland in response to a terrorist attack – 2017.
  • CT3: A joint inspection of the effectiveness of the CT Network in providing the ‘bridge’ between the national and local levels of policing in England, Wales and Scotland to reduce the risk from terrorism – 2018.

These reports were not published for reasons of national security.

CT4: Prevent inspection

In 2018/19 HMICFRS inspected the police’s contribution to the Prevent programme. Prevent is one of four strands of CONTEST, the UK Government’s strategy for countering terrorism.

We did this by looking at three principal areas:

  • what capability is in place in police forces to support Prevent;
  • whether there is consistency in the way in which police forces operate with regional counter-terrorism (intelligence) units and other organisations; and
  • whether there is effective sharing of information: within policing, with other agencies, and their joint approach to communication with the public about Prevent.

Methodology

As part of this inspection we worked with:

  • National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters (NCTPHQ);
  • Home office OSCT (Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism);
  • the Department for Education’s counter-extremism division; and
  • stakeholders working on Prevent, or with a general interest in Prevent.

Fieldwork was carried out in all 43 Home Office-funded police forces in England and Wales. We also visited the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence Police and British Transport Police.

In each force, we interviewed the chief officer responsible for Prevent, the strategic lead for Prevent and the head of safeguarding. We held focus groups with community police officers and staff and representatives of other public agencies who work with police forces on Prevent.

In addition, we reviewed more than 300 documents provided by forces, regions, other agencies and organisations and NCTPHQ. This included Prevent policy and strategy, referral reports, Channel documents and briefing material.

The findings from these inspections were drawn together into the report Counter-terrorism policing – An inspection of the police’s contribution to the government’s Prevent programme.

Get the report

A redacted version of the report was published in March 2020.

Read: Counter terrorism policing – An inspection of the police’s contribution to the government’s Prevent programme