First phase of new state-of-the-art counter terror centre opens in London

The Home Secretary and the Mayor of London have visited the new Counter Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC) in London following completion of its first element.

The new centre, housed in the Empress State building in West Brompton, was commissioned in the wake of the spate of terror attacks which killed 36 people in 2017.

The centre’s operations suite is now fully operational, with a state-of-the art counter terrorism forensics laboratory under construction and due to open later this year.

On Monday, Priti Patel and Sadiq Khan visited the centre accompanied by Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.

Also present were assistant commissioner Neil Basu and Ken McCallum, director general of MI5.

Priti Patel visits Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre
Home Secretary Priti Patel met with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The operational improvement review implemented after the attacks in 2017 found the UK needed to further develop its counter terrorism capabilities to meet the evolving threat.

Dame Cressida said: “The new Counter Terrorism Operations Centre will allow those involved in countering the threat from terrorism in London to work much more collaboratively and effectively.

“It will make Londoners, and indeed everyone in the UK, safer from that threat.”

She added: “The investment that we, the Mayor and the Government are all making will help to keep London and the UK at the very forefront of global counter terrorism capability and will keep the public safer because of it.”

Priti Patel visits Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre
Dame Cressida Dick with Home Secretary Priti Patel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr McCallum said: “Finding concealed threats is a difficult job. We’re always looking for ways to shave the odds in our favour.

“We know our chances of success are better when we combine the knowledge and the skills of experts from different organisations, fighting terrorism as a single team. CTOC is a massive next step on that journey – a world first.”

Priti Patel visits Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre
Director General of MI5 Ken McCallum during a visit to the new Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Home Secretary said: “The threats we face as a country from terrorism are diverse and always changing.

“To keep the British people safe, we must ensure we’re one step of ahead of those that seek to do us harm and attack our way of life.”

She added: “This is just one of the steps we’re taking to protect the British people from terrorism. We’ve also tightened sentencing for terrorist offenders, strengthened the supervision of terror offenders on licence, ended the automatic early release of terrorist prisoners and are consulting on the proposed Protect Duty.

“The British people should be in no doubt, I will always do everything in my power to keep them safe.”

The Mayor of London said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my top priority and that means supporting our police and security services so they have the tools and resources to protect our city from the constantly evolving threat of terrorism.”

The CTOC is due to be built and developed over the next four years.