United Kingdom Agencies

Central Intelligence Machinery

The Central Intelligence Machinery is the central mechanism, based in the Cabinet Office for the tasking, co-ordination and resourcing of the United Kingdom's intelligence and security Agencies for scrutinizing their performance and for reporting on the intelligence they produce. The 1994 Intelligence Services Act placed the functions of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) on a statutory footing for the first time. There is greater openness on the expenditure of the Agencies; a combined Single Intelligence Vote is now published annually. And a new Official Committee has been set up to examine the plans of the Security Service and to review its work.


Ministerial Committee on the Intelligence Services (IS)
In their day-to-day operations the Intelligence and Security Agencies operate under the immediate control of their respective Heads who are personally responsible to Ministers. The Prime Minister is responsible for intelligence and security matters overall and is supported in that capacity by the Secretary of the Cabinet. The Home Secretary is responsible for the Security Service; the Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary for SIS and GCHQ. The Secretary of State for Defence is responsible for the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) which forms an integral part of the Ministry of Defence.

There is also a Ministerial Committee on the Intelligence Services (IS), whose Terms of Reference are "To keep under review policy on the security and intelligence services" For example, the Committee considered the policy issues connected with the Intelligence Services Act. The Prime Minister is its chairman and the other members are the Deputy Prime Minister, Home, Defence and Foreign & Commonwealth Secretaries and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


Permanent Secretaries' Committee on the Intelligence Services (PSIS)
Ministers are assisted in the oversight of the Agencies by the Permanent Secretaries' Committee on the Intelligence Services (PSIS) which scrutinizes the Agencies' annual expenditure forecasts, management plans and intelligence requirements, as part of the Public Expenditure Survey arrangements. These plans together with the recommendations of the PSIS are then submitted to Ministers who agree the appropriate level of funding for the Agencies through the Single Intelligence Vote (SIV). PSIS is chaired by the Secretary of the Cabinet and its members are the Permanent Under Secretaries of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Treasury. The Intelligence Co-ordinator acts as adviser to PSIS, and chairs an advisory committee known as the Preliminary Committee which conducts the first scrutiny of the Agencies' Expenditure Forecasts.


Cabinet Official Committee on Security (SO)
The Security Service has its functions set out in the Security Service Acts 1989 and 1996. While the Service is in a position to contribute intelligence on some of the JIC's requirements (for example terrorism), its overall priorities are determined by its remit to counter certain types of threat. In recognition of this its business plans are validated and its performance reviewed annually by an inter-departmental sub-committee of the Cabinet Official Committee on Security (SO) - known as the Sub-Committee on Security Service Priorities and Performance (SOSSPP)).

The Committee has the responsibility to review the performance of the Security Service against plans and objectives, examine future Service priorities and to advise the Cabinet Secretary and PSIS as appropriate. Its membership comprises senior officials from the Treasury, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Department of Trade & Industry, Ministry of Defence, Department of Social Security, Scottish Office, Northern Ireland Office, GCHQ, Security Service, SIS, Office of Public Service and the Cabinet Office. The Home Office provides the Chairman and the secretariat functions are provided from the central intelligence machinery within the Cabinet Office.

Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)

The principal collection Agencies for secret intelligence are GCHQ and SIS. Their functions are set out in the Intelligence Services Act 1994. The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) agrees on the broad intelligence requirements and tasking to be laid upon SIS and GCHQ. These are reviewed annually in a process managed by the Intelligence Co-ordinator. This combines a rigorous analysis of the need for secret intelligence with extensive consultation with customer Departments and consideration of the financial and other resources required. The resulting requirements are submitted to Ministers for approval.

The intelligence requirements are ordered into three priorities according to their importance to the national security and economic well-being of the United Kingdom. They are further divided into matters on which secret intelligence is actively sought and those on which intelligence should be reported on an opportunity basis. Examples of high priority requirements would be those dealing with terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and any other threats to the UK or to the integrity of British territory overseas. At the end of each year the performance of the Agencies in meeting these requirements is reviewed by the JIC and subsequently by Ministers. The Security Service has its functions set out in the Security Service Acts 1989 and 1996 and it contributes intelligence on some of the JIC's requirements.

The Committee is charged with the following responsibilities:

Under the broad supervisory responsibility of the Permanent Secretaries' Committee on the Intelligence Services to give direction to and to keep under review the organisation and working of British intelligence activity as a whole at home and overseas in order to ensure efficiency, economy and prompt adaptation to changing requirements; 

to submit at agreed intervals for approval by Ministers statements of the requirements and priorities for intelligence gathering and other tasks to be conducted by the intelligence Agencies.

to co-ordinate as necessary interdepartmental plans for intelligence activity.

to monitor and give early warning of the development of direct or indirect foreign threats to British interests whether political, military or economic.

on the basis of available information to assess events and situations relating to external affairs, defence, terrorism, major international criminal activity, scientific, technical and international economic matters.

to keep under review threats to security at home and overseas and to deal with such security problems as may be referred to it.

to maintain and supervise liaison with Commonwealth and foreign intelligence organisations as appropriate and to consider the extent to which its product can be made available to them.

The Committee brings to the attention of Ministers and Departments as appropriate, assessments that appear to require operational, planning or policy action. The Chairman is specifically charged with ensuring that the Committee's monitoring and warning role is discharged effectively. The Committee may constitute such permanent and temporary sub-committees and Working Parties as may be required to fulfil its responsibilities. The Committee reports to the Secretary of the Cabinet except that any special assessments required by the Chiefs of Staff shall be submitted directly to them in the first instance.

Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS)

The Defence Intelligence Staff part of the Ministry of Defence and funded within the defence vote is an essential element of the central intelligence machinery. The Defence Intelligence Staff is the main provider of strategic Defence Intelligence to the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces and is also a key element of the United Kingdom’s central intelligence machinery. Located in the Old War Office Building Whitehall the DIS supports other Government Departments with advice and intelligence assessments. These assessments also play a special role in support of analysis and operations undertaken by NATO and the WEU.

The Defence Intelligence Staff can trace its ancestry back to 1946 when the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) was established under the direction of General Keith Strong, General Eisenhower’s British wartime Chief of Intelligence. It was created in 1964 by the amalgamation of all three service intelligence staffs and the civilian Joint Intelligence Bureau to form an integrated body able to serve the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces and other Government Departments.

The task of the DIS is to analyse information from a wide variety of sources, both overt and covert. In order to make decisions, Ministry of Defence [MOD] policy-makers, military planners and force commanders need an accurate view of world developments, timely warning of impending crises, and informed reporting on areas where British forces are or may be deployed. These are the tasks of the Defence Intelligence Staff, which produces assessments drawing on material from a variety of sources, including both open literature and classified reports. These assessments range from studies of the characteristics of weapon systems held by potential opponents, to the analysis of the influences at work in any part of the world where the United Kingdom has important interests.

The DIS is a mixed organisation of serving officers and civilian research staff, scientific staff and linguists. The head of the DIS is the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), a serving 3 star officer who may be drawn from any of the three services, who reports to the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Permanent Secretary of the MOD. CDI is responsible for the overall co-ordination of defence intelligence throughout the Armed Forces and single-Service commands. The Chief of Defence Intelligence is responsible for the work of the DIS and is charged also with the overall direction of intelligence within the defence community. CDI is deputy chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which produces authoritative intelligence assessments on behalf of the UK intelligence community and which is the main national instrument for advising on intelligence collection priorities and the assessment of the results.

The provision of intelligence support to the Peace Implementation Force (IFOR) in the former Yugoslavia has been allocated a significant proportion of the resources available to the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). The DIS runs a full-time Yugoslav Crisis Cell, which can call upon the in-depth expertise of all directorates within the DIS, including military, infrastructure, technical and industries analysts and the embargo monitoring cell. All assessments are rapidly and securely disseminated to British forces operating as part of the IFOR deployment via the Joint Headquarters at the same time as they are passed to the Department. Wherever possible and appropriate, they are sent to Allies operating alongside our own forces in the former Yugoslavia, both through the NATO communications system and via the intelligence liaison staffs resident within the DIS itself.

The DIS are also involved in the setting up of the WEU Situation Centre and Intelligence Section. The DIS submits Weekly Intelligence Summaries to the Intelligence Section, supplemented by weekly briefing on the situation in the former Yugoslavia. It has also responded to ad hoc requests from the Section for more detailed briefing on particular areas. The DIS will continue to work with WEU partners to refine current arrangements and to improve the WEU's ability to receive and circulate intelligence.

The DIS has a total staff of 4,600 both military and civilian, about 700 of whom are located in the DIS Headquarters in the Old War Office Building. The remaining staff work in the DIS Defence Agencies or at other units in the UK and overseas. Serving members of the Armed Forces make up approximately 60% of the manpower of the DIS. The DIS is divided into two main parts - the Defence Intelligence Analysis Staff (DIAS) and the Intelligence and Geographic Resources Staff (IGRS). In addition, other staffs dealing with finance, personnel, Departmental management, and information systems and communications report directly to CDI.

The civilian Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence (DCDI) heads the Defence Intelligence Analysis Staff (DIAS), which is responsible for providing global defence intelligence assessments and strategic warning. The DIAS is able to draw upon classified information provided by the Government Communications Headquarters, the Secret Intelligence Service, the Security Service, Allied intelligence services and military intelligence collection assets, in addition to diplomatic reporting and a wide range of open-source information.

The Intelligence & Geographic Resources Staff (IGRS) is headed by the Director General Intelligence and Geographic Resources (DGIGR), a serving 2-star military officer who may be drawn from any of the three services. DGIGR manages six discrete policy branches in the Old War Office Building with responsibility for oversight of the collection and provision of specialist intelligence and geographic information to Defence. DGIGR is also the "Owner" of the three DIS Defence Agencies: the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC), the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC), and Military Survey. On 10 May 1999, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State announced that two of these agencies -- JARIC and Military Survey -- would merge on 1 April 2000 into a new agency, the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency.

Military Survey Defence Agency

Military Survey was established as a Defence Agency on 2 April 1991. Its role is to ensure the provision of geographic and geospatial support to defence planning, training and operations - providing the Armed Forces with the mapping they require throughout the world. Its net operating costs in 1998/99 were £91.4 million and it employed an average of 1,078 staff. The Chief Executive Military Survey is the ultimate Defence authority on geographic matters and has overall responsibility worldwide for geographic personnel in the UK and overseas. Military Survey supports a small central staff in MOD Main Building and occupies a number of sites at Feltham, Hermitage near Newbury, Tolworth, Guildford and Münchengladbach in Germany.

On 10 May 1999, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State announced that two of these agencies JARIC and Military Survey would merge on 1 April 2000 into a new agency, the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency. 

Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency (DGIA)

On 10 May 1999, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State announced that two of these agencies JARIC and Military Survey would merge on 1 April 2000 into a new agency, the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency. The case for merging the Military Survey and JARIC Defence Agencies into a single agency was considered under the Strategic Defence Review. The study, which was completed in September 1998, concluded that there were a number of drivers, mainly in the medium to long term, recommending the merger of Military Survey and JARIC. These would secure improved operational effectiveness and better service to defence. Early implementation of a merger was recommended. DGIA is based at four main UK sites: Feltham in West London, Brampton near Huntingdon, Tolworth in Surrey and Hermitage near Newbury. The Headquarters is at Feltham, alongside its largest business unit, the Defence Geographic Centre. DGIA has some 1,700 staff; over half are civilians and all three Services are represented. The Agency acts as the Department's centre of excellence for the production of imagery intelligence and geographic information in support of current military operations, defence planning, general intelligence requirements and wider Government interests.

Defence Intelligence and Security Centre
The Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC) is located at Chicksands in Bedfordshire. The Agency was created on 1 October 1996 to integrate all intelligence and most security training into a single tri-Service organisation. Core functions are to provide: training in intelligence and security disciplines, training in conduct after capture, and advice on intelligence and security policy. The Defence Intelligence and Security Centre trains the Armed Forces and other intelligence agencies in intelligence and security disciplines, and conduct after capture. It also contributes advice on appropriate intelligence and security policy matters, and maintains an operational capability. In 1998/99 it employed an average of 484 staff and its net operating cost was £27 million.
Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force was formed on 01 April 1918 from the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. RAF Bomber Command with HQ at High Wycombe was responsible for all light, medium and heavy bomber units. Working on the maxim that "The bomber will always get through", early RAF tactics dictated that a formation of bombers could defend themselves in daylight against enemy fighter attack. During the Second World War, the Bomber Command was the only way for British power to be brought directly to bear on Germany. After the defeat of the Luftwaffe by Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, the Allied air force turned its attention towards Germany. Bomber Command pursued a strategic bombing campaign directed by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur ["Bomber"] Harris from his headquarters at High Wycombe. Unacceptable losses early in the war had resulted in RAF opting for a policy of night-bombing to increase the bombers chances against German fighters. Due to the difficulties associated with identifying precise targets at night, Bomber Command concentrated on area, as opposed to precision bombing, when striking at German targets. Bomber Command and Fighter Command were merged into today's RAF Strike Command, headquartered at RAF High Wycombe with under its command based all over the world. Strike Command's No.1 Group at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, controls the RAF strike/attack force, including the Panavia Tornado. Air power remains a fundamental component of war fighting capability, complementing maritime and ground forces, and providing an offensive capability in its own right which will be enhanced by the increasing precision of air-delivered weapons. It has also proved its utility in non-war fighting operations, including the enforcement of no-fly zones and humanitarian deployments.

Under the July 1998 Strategic Defence Review twelve Tornado GR1s will be removed from the front line, a measure also necessary to enable the GR1/4 force to reach its out of service date, together with nine Harriers, thirteen Tornado F3 and two Jaguars. These reductions will result in the disbandment of one F3 and one GR1 squadron. It is anticipated that the Tornado GR1/4 will lose its anti-shipping role, but this does not imply any further reduction in airframe numbers. Eurofighter remains the cornerstone of the RAF's future equipment program, and the UK Government plans to purchase 232 of the aircraft. Studies continue into a Future Offensive Air System to replace the Tornado GR4 in about twenty years' time. It is planned that the RAF will share with the RN the operation of a single aircraft (the Future Carrier Borne Aircraft) to replace the Sea Harrier and Harrier GR7, for which the Joint Strike Fighter will be a strong contender.

Strike Command

Strike Command, with its headquarters at High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, was formed in 1968 by merging Fighter and Bomber Commands. Later, Transport and Coastal Commands were amalgamated to form a single multi-role organisation. Strike Command's role is to provide a fully operational combat air force, and to this end it controls all the United Kingdom's front-line aircraft world-wide. With an annual budget of £1.7 billion and around 45,000 personnel (of which over 4,000 are civilian), Strike Command is responsible for about 200 units, at home and abroad, and operates nearly 700 aircraft. Day-to-day responsibility for operations is delegated to three Groups. No 1 Group, co-located at High Wycombe, is responsible for strike/attack operations, support of the Army in the field, and all RAF forces based in Germany. No 11/18 Group, with its staff split between RAF Bentley Priory and Fleet Headquarters, Northwood, is responsible for air defence, maritime, electronic warfare, and search and rescue operations. No 38 Group, also at High Wycombe, manages the RAF's transport and air-to-air refuelling activities.

Secret Intelligence Service MI6

The Secret Intelligence Service, sometimes known as MI6, originated in 1909 as the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau, under RNR Commander, later Captain, Sir Mansfield Cumming, which was responsible for gathering intelligence overseas. By 1922 Cumming's section had become a separate Service with the title SIS. Cumming signed himself 'C'; his successors have done so ever since. The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was established in 1940, partly from the then Section D of SIS. After the War it was disbanded and some of its members were reabsorbed into SIS. With the passing of the Intelligence Services Act, SIS was placed on a statutory footing under the Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary to whom it is responsible for all aspects of its work. The Act defines the functions of the Service and the responsibilities of its Chief, as well as establishing control and oversight arrangements. The Service's principal role is the production of secret intelligence in support of Her Majesty's Government's security, defence, foreign and economic policies within the framework of requirements laid upon it by the JIC and approved by Ministers. It meets these JIC requirements for intelligence gathering and other tasks through a variety of sources, human and technical, and by liaison with a wide range of foreign intelligence and security services. Specific operations are subject to longstanding procedures for official and ministerial clearance. As the CIA is known as "The Company," SIS is known internally as "The Firm" and to other agencies as "The Friends." SIS is based at 85 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall Cross in London (known to those who work there as "Legoland"). MI6 also paid for a number of telephones located in a busy street in south London (Borough High Street in Southwark, opposite the Police Station) which has been identified as the spy training centre. The main training centre is Fort Monckton, a Napoleonic fort on the south coast at Gosport in Hampshire. What is thought to have been MI6's former City of London office is located in an office block in the Square Mile.

GCHQ Government Communications Headquarters

GCHQ is a Civil Service Department under the Ministerial responsibility of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. GCHQ provides Government Departments and Military Commands with signals intelligence (Sigint) in accordance with requirements laid upon it by the JIC (as for SIS) in support of HMG's security, defence, foreign and economic policies.

GCHQ was established in 1946 as the post-War successor of the Government Code and Cipher School which had been the central Sigint organisation since 1919 and had made an outstanding contribution to the War effort at Bletchley Park, for example by decrypting German messages enciphered by the ENIGMA machine. In 1953 GCHQ moved to two sites on the outskirts of Cheltenham, where it continues to be based. The Director of GCHQ is responsible to the Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary for all aspects of its work.

GCHQ derives signal intelligence by monitoring a variety of communications and other signals, such as radars. For this purpose it controls and administers the Composite Signals Organisation which operates from a number of locations in the UK and overseas. The Composite Signals Organisation Station, Morwenstowe [Bude, Cornwall] is directly subordinate to GCHQ. Like SIS and the Security Service, it also works in liaison with a range of foreign intelligence and security services.

In addition to providing signals intelligence, GCHQ also provides advice and assistance to Government Departments and the Armed Forces on the security of their communications and information technology systems. This task is undertaken by the Communications Electronics Security Group of GCHQ, which works closely with their customers and industry, as well as with the Security Service, to ensure that official information in such systems is properly protected. CESG is the UK’s National Authority for the official use of cryptography, and the National Technical Authority for information security more generally. CESG's primary customers are people handling and processing official information usually within government departments large and small and the three services, but also in agencies and firms carrying out work on government’s behalf. CESG is in principle open to requests for advice from other sectors, but are not currently resourced to service these on any large scale. CESG now operates on a cost-recovery basis, charging for customer-specific services while providing general national authority services (policy, standards, etc) to the official community at large at no direct cost. Generally, CESG does not manufacture security equipment, but rather works closely with industry to ensure the availability of a range of suitable products and services to meet official needs, and of the infrastructures to support those services.

The present Director of GCHQ is Mr. Francis Richards. At the end of the Cold War some 6,000 people worked for GCHQ, with the total staff having declined to some to 4,500 by 1997. GCHQ's annual budget is in the neighbourhood of over £400M. GCHQ is headquartered in Cheltenham. To reach GCHQ from M5 Junction 11 (northbound) motorway exit one takes the third exit off the roundabout signposted Cheltenham A40 to the third exit at the next roundabout staying on for A40. The government has announced plans to amalgamate the two Cheltenham sites into one "super GCHQ", though at present no details are available.


ECHELON is a term associated with a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for pre-programmed keywords or fax, telex and e-mail addresses. Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched. The processors in the network are known as the ECHELON Dictionaries. ECHELON connects all these computers and allows the individual stations to function as distributed elements an integrated system. An ECHELON station's Dictionary contains not only its parent agency's chosen keywords, but also lists for each of the other four agencies in the UKUSA system [NSA, GCHQ, DSD, GCSB and CSE].

Security Service MI5

The Security Service, also known as MI5, originated in 1909 as the internal arm of the Secret Service Bureau, under Army Captain (later Sir) Vernon Kell, tasked with countering German espionage. In 1931 it assumed wider responsibility for assessing threats to national security which included international communist subversion and, subsequently, fascism. In 1952, in the early stages of the Cold War, the work of the Service and the responsibility of the Director General were defined in a Directive many of whose provisions were later incorporated in the Security Service Act 1989.

Today the Security Service Act forms the statutory basis for the Service, which is placed under the authority of the Home Secretary. The Act also sets out the functions of the Service, as well as certain controls and oversight arrangements. As the UK's domestic security intelligence agency the Service's purpose is to protect the State against substantial, covertly organised threats, primarily from terrorism, espionage and subversion. Most recently, since the passing of the Security Service Act 1996, its role has been expanded to provide support to law enforcement agencies in the field of organised crime.

The present Director General of the Security Service is Mr Stephen Lander, who took office in April 1996.

In March 1909, the Prime Minister, Mr Asquith, instructed the Committee of Imperial Defence to consider the dangers from German espionage to British naval ports. On 1 October, following the Committee’s recommendation, Captain Vernon Kell of the South Staffordshire Regiment and Captain Mansfield Cumming of the Royal Navy jointly established the Secret Service Bureau. To fulfil the Admiralty’s requirement for information about Germany’s new navy, Kell and Cumming decided to divide their work. Thereafter, ‘K’ was responsible for counter-espionage within the British Isles while ‘C’, as Cumming came to be known, was responsible for gathering intelligence overseas.

Between March 1909 and the outbreak of the First World War, more than 30 spies were identified by the Secret Service Bureau and arrested, thereby depriving the German Intelligence Service of its network. At the time, the Bureau had a staff of only ten, including Kell himself. The Bureau was rapidly mobilized as a branch of the War Office. In January 1916 it became part of a new Directorate of Military Intelligence and was then titled MI5.

Wartime legislation increased the responsibilities of MI5 to include the coordination of government policy concerning aliens, vetting and other security measures at munitions factories. MI5 also began to oversee counter-espionage measures throughout the Empire. By the end of the War, during which a further 35 spies were identified and arrested, MI5 had approximately 850 staff. Details of the work of MI5 up to the end of the First World War may be found in the Service’s surviving records from this period, which were released for public view by the Public Record Office in November 1997. After the Bolshevik coup d’état of October 1917, MI5 began to work on the threats from Communist subversion within the Armed Services, and sabotage to military installations.

On 15 October 1931 formal responsibility for assessing all threats to the national security of the United Kingdom, apart from those posed by Irish terrorists and anarchists, was passed to MI5. This date marked the formation of the Security Service, although the title MI5 has remained in popular use to this day.

Following Hitler’s rise to power, the new Service had to face the threat of subversion from Fascists. However, at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War it was ill-equipped for its many tasks, which included counter-espionage; monitoring of enemy aliens and advising on internment; vetting checks for government departments; visiting firms engaged in war work to advise them on security measures against espionage and sabotage; and dealing with reports by members of the public concerning suspicious activity. In early 1939 the Service’s strength stood at only 30 officers and its surveillance section comprised just six men. To make matters worse, in September 1940 many of its records were destroyed by German bombing.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Service had moved premises to Wormwood Scrubs Prison, but in late 1940 the majority of staff were evacuated to Blenheim Palace. In early 1941, Sir David Petrie was appointed the first Director General of the Security Service, and was given the resources to rebuild a substantial organisation.

Internment at the outbreak of the War effectively deprived the Germans of all their existing agents. Moreover, when German intelligence records were studied after 1945, it was found that all of the further 200 agents targeted against Britain during the course of the War had been successfully identified and caught. Some of these agents were ‘turned’ by the Service and became double agents who fed false information to the Germans concerning military strategy throughout the War. This was the famous ‘Double Cross’ system. This highly effective deception contributed to the success of the Allied Forces landing in Normandy on ‘D Day’ in June 1944.

In 1952 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, deputed his personal responsibility for the Security Service to the Home Secretary, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, who issued a Directive describing the Service’s tasks and setting out the role of the Director General. This Directive provided the basis for the Service’s work until 1989, when the Security Service Act placed the Service on a statutory footing for the first time.

By the early 1950s, the Service’s staff had increased to about 850. These included some 40 Security Liaison Officers overseas who provided advice and assistance to governments in the Commonwealth and Colonies. Following the defeat of Nazi Germany and the advent of the Cold War, the Service turned its attention to the threat from the Soviet Union. It had for some time already been focused on the activities of the Communist Party of Great Britain which, at its peak in the early 1940s, had 55,000 members. In March 1948 the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, announced that Communists as well as Fascists were to be excluded from work "vital to the security of the state". This was achieved through the setting up of the vetting system, which the Service was charged to support. The cases of Philby, Burgess and MacLean, in particular, showed how effective the Russian Intelligence Service had been before the War in recruiting ideologically-motivated spies in Britain.

In the 1960s, the successful identification of a number of spies – including George Blake, an officer of the Secret Intelligence Service; the Portland spy ring; and John Vassall, an employee at the Admiralty recruited by the KGB in Moscow – illustrated the need for still greater counter-espionage efforts. Lord Denning’s report into the Profumo Affair in 1963 revealed publicly for the first time details of the Service’s role and responsibilities. This period of its history culminated in the mass expulsion from the UK in 1971 of 105 Soviet personnel, which severely weakened Russian intelligence operations in London.

By the late 1970s, the Service’s resources were being redirected from work on subversion into international and Irish terrorism. The Service’s counter-terrorist effort had begun in the late 1960s in response to the growing problem of Palestinian terrorism. Major incidents, including the terrorist sieges at the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980 and the Libyan People’s Bureau in 1984, tested the Service’s developing procedures and links with other agencies. During this period, the Service played a leading role in establishing an effective network for cooperation on terrorism among Western security and intelligence services.

Major changes in the focus of the Service’s work took place in the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War. The threat from subversion had diminished, and the threat from espionage, though it persisted, required less of the Service’s effort. Terrorism, however, had not abated. In October 1992 responsibility for leading the intelligence effort against Irish republican terrorism on the British mainland was transferred to the Service. In this new work, the Service was able to draw on the experience it had gained in the 1970s and 1980s in running long-term intelligence operations to counter other manifestations of terrorism. Between 1992 and April 1998 the Service’s work with the police against Irish republican terrorism resulted in 18 convictions for terrorist-related offences.

Many intended terrorist attacks, including large city-centre bombings, were prevented. Recent years have seen other significant developments. The Service now has a role working alongside other government departments and agencies in efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And in 1996 the Security Service Act was amended to give the Service the additional function of supporting the police and other law enforcement agencies in the prevention and detection of serious crime.

External oversight of the Service has also increased: in 1994 the Intelligence and Security Committee was established under the Intelligence Services Act, supplementing the oversight measures already in place under the Security Service Act.

Meanwhile, a number of measures have been introduced in order to make more information about the Service publicly available. The aim has been to be as open as possible about the Service, providing a factual context within which its work can be understood, but without damaging its operational effectiveness or putting its staff or agents at risk. The Service’s first major step in this area was the publication in 1993 of the first edition of a booklet, which included an address for public correspondence. A revised edition was issued in 1996.

Other steps in openness have included public speeches by the Director General, such as the Dimbleby Lecture given in 1994 by the then Director General, Stella Rimington; the recruitment through openly-advertised procedures of all staff employed on general duties; and the release by the Public Record Office in 1997 of the Service’s earliest historical archives.

The Security Service operates under the statutory authority of the Secretary of State (the Home Secretary), but it is not part of the Home Office. In a democracy there is an inherent tension between the existence of a Security Service with intrusive investigative capabilities and the preservation of individuals’ privacy. As long as covert threats to the nation persist, the Service may need to invade the privacy of a very small minority in order to protect the security of the great majority. But there must also be safeguards. In addition to its own tightly drawn internal controls, the Service is subject to the following external oversight and accountability measures:

The Director General is accountable under the Security Service Act 1989 to the Home Secretary. The Director General is appointed by the Home Secretary in consultation with the Prime Minister and is required to submit a report to them annually. The Director General is statutorily responsible for all aspects of the operations and efficiency of the Service, and for ensuring that it obtains and discloses information only in accordance with its functions under the Act.

The Security Service Act provides for an independent Tribunal, supported by a Commissioner (a senior judge), to investigate complaints about the Service from members of the public. The Commissioner is also responsible for reviewing the issue by the Secretary of State of Property Warrants under the Intelligence Services Act 1994.

The Interception of Communications Act 1985 also provides for a Tribunal, supported by a Commissioner (also a senior judge), to investigate complaints about interception of telephone or postal communications. The Commissioner is also responsible for reviewing the issue of interception warrants by the Secretary of State.

Under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, the Service, together with SIS and GCHQ, is overseen by the Intelligence and Security Committee, a committee of Parliamentarians, on matters of expenditure, administration and policy.

The Service’s performance, plans and priorities are subject to external scrutiny and validation by a senior Whitehall committee, known as SO(SSPP), reporting to Ministers.

The Director General has one Deputy who is responsible for overseeing intelligence operations. There are five branches, each headed by a Director: three branches are engaged in intelligence investigations and in advising on protective measures to counter the various threats; the other two are responsible for intelligence collection, production and information management, and for personnel, security, finance and facilities management. There is also a Legal Advisers’ department. In addition, the Service fills the post of Director and Coordinator of Intelligence (Northern Ireland), who reports separately both to the Director General and to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The Director General, Deputy Director General, the Directors and the Legal Adviser meet regularly as the Management Board of the Service to consider policy and strategic issues. In particular, the Management Board decides how the priorities and organisation of the Service should change to reflect shifts in the pattern and intensity of threats.

The Service currently employs around 1,900 people (a full-time equivalent strength of 1,860), who are mostly based at its headquarters at Millbank in central London. The Director General has a Deputy who oversees intelligence operations, and there are six Directors. The Service is divided into branches, each headed by a Director.

The Security Service Act 1989 sets out a number of statutory mechanisms for the accountability and control of the Service and its work. It:

places the Service under the authority of the Secretary of State (the Home Secretary);

sets out the responsibilities of the Director General; and

provides for an independent Tribunal and Commissioner to deal with complaints about the Service from the public.

The Act also contained provisions, subsequently incorporated into the Intelligence Services Act 1994, for the issue of warrants by the Secretary of State authorising interference with property, and for the review by the Commissioner of the Secretary of State’s exercise of this function. These statutory mechanisms have been considered and endorsed by the European Commission on Human Rights in a number of applications under the European Convention on Human Rights arising out of complaints to the Security Service Tribunal. The Service is also subject to various other forms of oversight and accountability, notably:

the provisions of the Interception of Communications Act 1985, including a Tribunal to handle complaints about interception, and a Commissioner who is responsible for reviewing the Secretary of State’s exercise of his functions in issuing warrants;

oversight by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a committee of Parliamentarians which was established under the Intelligence Services Act 1994;

external review and validation of the Service’s priorities and performance by a senior Whitehall committee (SO(SSPP))

Ministerial oversight of the Service’s funding arrangements;

scrutiny of the Service’s spending plans by the Permanent Secretaries’ committee on the Intelligence Services (PSIS), as part of the budgetary process; and

scrutiny by the National Audit Office, which has access to any of the Service’s financial records it requires.

The mechanisms for oversight of the Service have undergone many changes throughout its history, as different Governments have addressed the particular requirements of the day. Originally established under the Prime Minister’s authority, and later under the Home Secretary with the Maxwell-Fyfe Directive to the Service of 1952, the Service is now accountable for its work via the range of oversight arrangements described above.

The Director General is appointed by the Home Secretary, in consultation with the Prime Minister. The Director General is personally responsible for:

the operations and efficiency of the Service;

making an annual report on the work of the Service to the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister;

ensuring that the Service is politically impartial; and

ensuring that the Service obtains and discloses information only in accordance with its statutory functions, or (in the case of disclosure) for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime, or for the purpose of any criminal proceedings.

The Director General’s responsibilities in this last area are met by means of arrangements through which the day-to-day work of the Service is controlled. These internal mechanisms are designed to ensure that the work of the Service adheres to the principles that:

the rule of law must be paramount; and

that methods of investigation must be proportionate to the threat and authorised at an appropriate level.

The relationship between the Home Secretary and the Director General is of great importance. The Home Secretary receives briefing from the Director General on threats to national security and economic well-being and discusses with him or her matters of policy affecting the Service – for example, regarding resources or legislation. The Home Secretary is briefed by the Director General on major current investigations and has a close knowledge of the most sensitive aspects of the Service’s work through the procedure by which the Home Secretary personally authorises warrants allowing the Service to intercept letters or telephone calls, or to interfere with property. The Home Secretary also receives independent advice and information from officials in the Home Office, who maintain close working links with the Service.


The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC)
The Intelligence Services Act 1994 established the Intelligence and Security Committee. Its remit is "to examine the expenditure, administration and policy" of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ. The Committee comprises nine Parliamentarians, drawn from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Committee is appointed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. No member may be a current Minister of the Crown. The Committee makes an annual report to the Prime Minister, who lays it before Parliament, subject to any exclusions on security grounds.

The Director General of the Security Service (as well as the Chief of SIS and the Director of GCHQ) has a statutory duty to provide the ISC with the information it requires. The agency heads may only withhold information from the Committee if it falls within certain categories of ‘sensitive’ information, as defined in the Intelligence Services Act. This includes details of sources, operations and methods, as well as information provided in confidence by allied foreign services. However, even such sensitive material may be made available to the Committee if the agency concerned considers that it would be safe to do so.

A decision by the head of one of the agencies to withhold sensitive information from the Committee is subject to review by the Secretary of State, who can order that it should be made available if he or she considers it desirable in the public interest.


The Security Service Tribunal
The Security Service Act 1989 provides for a Tribunal to investigate complaints about the Service from members of the public. The Tribunal consists of three senior members of the legal profession, appointed by Royal Warrant. Both the Tribunal and the Commissioner are independent of the Government. They visit the Service to examine its records as necessary. The Act states that anyone may complain to the Tribunal "if he is aggrieved by anything which he believes the Service has done in relation to him or to any property of his". The Tribunal must first establish whether the complainant has been the subject of enquiries by the Service. The Tribunal obtains this information directly from the Service, whose staff are under a legal duty to produce whatever information is required. They may also be interviewed by the Tribunal.

If the Tribunal finds that the Service has made enquiries about a complainant, it must establish whether the Service had reasonable grounds for so doing. Similarly, it may be alleged that the Service has disclosed information about the complainant for use in vetting for employment.

If this proves to be the case, the Tribunal must determine whether the Service had reasonable grounds for believing the information to be true. If a complaint is upheld the Tribunal must notify the complainant and report its findings to the Secretary of State and to the Commissioner. The Tribunal also has the power to order that enquiries be ended and records destroyed, and that compensation be paid to the complainant. Between the introduction of the Security Service Act in 1989 and the end of 1997 the Tribunal investigated 275 complaints. No complaint was upheld. In the great majority of cases, the complainants were unknown to the Service.


The Security Service Commissioner
The Security Service Act also established the office of the Security Service Commissioner. One of the Commissioner’s responsibilities is to review the issue by the Secretary of State of property warrants under the Intelligence Services Act. It is also the Commissioner’s function, if a complainant to the Tribunal alleges that the Service has interfered with his or her property, to investigate whether a property warrant was issued. If one was, he or she must also establish whether the Secretary of State acted properly in issuing it.

The Commissioner ( a senior judge) has an important additional function. If, on investigating a complaint, the Tribunal concludes that it should not be upheld, but nonetheless decides that there should be an investigation into whether the Service has in any other respect acted unreasonably in relation to the complainant, it may refer the matter to the Commissioner. The Commissioner will then investigate and may report the findings to the Secretary of State, who has the power to take any appropriate remedial action. The Commissioner makes an annual report to the Prime Minister, who lays it before Parliament, subject to any deletions judged necessary on security grounds after consultation with the Commissioner.

A number of Security Service procedures, particularly concerning record-keeping, have been adjusted in response to issues identified by the Tribunal and subsequently investigated by the Commissioner. 


The IOCA Tribunal and Commissioner
Similar arrangements exist under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 (IOCA) to which other agencies such as the police and HM Customs and Excise are also subject. IOCA established a Tribunal, supported by a Commissioner, to deal with complaints from anyone who believes their communications may have been intercepted in breach of the Act. The Tribunal, which consists of five senior members of the legal profession, investigates whether a warrant has been issued and, if so, whether the requirements of the Act have been met. If it is found that the Act has been breached, the Tribunal must notify the applicant and report its findings to the Prime Minister. The Tribunal may also quash the warrant, order the destruction of copies of intercepted communications and direct the Secretary of State to pay compensation. In none of the cases it has investigated has the Tribunal found against the Service.

The Interception Commissioner also a senior judge reviews the issue by the Secretary of State of warrants under the Act, and also assists the Interception Tribunal as required. He or she regularly visits the Service to examine the intelligence requirement for interception warrants and to discuss individual cases. The Commissioner reports annually to the Prime Minister and may report at any time if it appears that the requirements of the Act have not been met. As for the Security Service Act Commissioner, the IOCA Commissioner’s annual report is laid by the Prime Minister before Parliament, subject to any exclusions judged necessary on security grounds

The Service currently employs around 1,900 people, equivalent to 1,860 full-time staff. 47% of the staff are women, 54% are under the age of 40 and 5% work part-time. In addition, over 100 staff are currently working in the Service on secondment or attachment from other departments and agencies. Drawn from all walks of life, the staff are a mixture of specialists (including linguists, technicians and surveillance officers) and generalist intelligence and administrative staff.

The main investigative, assessment and policy work of the Service is carried out by generalist staff, who account for about two-thirds of the total. But their work requires support from a range of specialists in languages, technology, surveillance, IT, communications and protective security.

More than a quarter of them are specialist staff who have brought their particular skills to the job or have been trained after joining. These staff have a wide range of expertise and include linguists, computer experts, communications specialists, scientists, technical staff, as well as building maintenance staff, catering staff, printers, drivers, mechanics and porters. The remainder are generalists. Some of them join as recent graduates or equivalent to carry out the intelligence tasks, (investigation, assessment of risks and operational work), policy and key administrative work. Others join at a more junior level for administrative, clerical and support work. Occasionally there is a requirement to recruit a small number of generalists at the middle management level.

The Service recruits a wide range of staff, including specialists, graduates and school leavers. Because of the Service’s exacting requirements for integrity and reliability, all candidates are vetted to the highest level of security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV). In 1997 the Service for the first time advertised openly in the national press for new recruits. Candidates applying to the Civil Service Fast Stream can, on passing the qualifying test for the Civil Service Selection Board, nominate the Service as the department they wish to join.

The Service places emphasis on training and development for all members of staff. On joining the Service staff receive structured induction training and one-to-one mentoring according to the work they are to undertake. This is supplemented by training in specific skills required for particular posts. Further development opportunities occur as staff move periodically to different posts in the Service. Most training is carried out internally by the Service’s own professionally-trained staff, though sometimes external training providers are also used. Some specialist staff are recruited with the required qualifications and expertise, while others, such as surveillance staff, are given intensive in-house training. Graduate entrants to the Service’s general duties staff receive a six month training package which combines formal courses with substantial periods of work experience. Staff also have the opportunity to study for relevant external qualifications.

The Staff Forum is a body of elected representatives from across the Service. It serves as a channel of communication to senior management of staff views on matters of general concern, and it provides a means of consultation on key issues such as terms and conditions of service and pay. Staff Forum business is conducted both through formal meetings, chaired by the Director General, and through continuing contacts and discussion between Forum representatives and members of the senior management and the personnel branch.

Since 1987 all members of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ have had access to an external Staff Counsellor. The Staff Counsellor is available for private consultation by any member of the three services who may have concerns about the nature or propriety of their work. Under these terms of reference he sends a report, at least annually, to the Prime Minister and to the relevant Secretaries of State (the Home Secretary in the case of the Security Service).

With the exception of the Director General, who since 1992 has been publicly named on appointment, the Service has a firm policy of keeping the identities and home addresses of its staff out of the public domain. This policy of anonymity remains a necessity because of the personal threat that staff would otherwise face, particularly from terrorist groups, some of which are known to regard the Service as a prime target. It is also vital for the success of intelligence-gathering operations that the Service’s staff can operate under cover against target organisations or in hostile situations without being identified as Security Service officers. Staff would no longer be widely deployable if their identity or appearance were compromised, with consequential damage to the Service’s effectiveness. Public identification of someone as a member of the Service, including his or her appearance, could also have serious implications for the security of agents with whom that officer may have worked in the past. The consequences of publicity can therefore extend to others besides the individual member of the Service. Another reason for anonymity is that it greatly reduces the scope for targeting by foreign intelligence services, criminals or others wishing to penetrate or corrupt the Service.

For these reasons, judges have allowed Security Service staff to give evidence in criminal trials anonymously, including the use of screens to protect the appearance of the witnesses. These arrangements correspond to those for undercover or specialist police officers, or members of the special forces, when they give evidence. The decision on these issues, however, rests with the judge in each case. Even where the judge makes an order for the screening and anonymity of Security Service witnesses, their evidence remains subject to cross-examination by the defence in the normal way.

The major areas of expenditure are: technological development – in a constantly changing environment the Service must invest in the development of its investigative capabilities in order to maintain a technological edge over sophisticated targets and to enhance efficiency; assisting other agencies in their work, such as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC); work to ensure compliance with the Service’s accountability arrangements, together with internal security, financial management and resource planning.

In line with the now reduced threat, the Service currently devotes only 12% of its budget to all aspects of counter-espionage. This is significantly less than in the period prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, when around a half of the Service’s resources were focused directly on the substantial espionage threat posed by the Soviet Union and its allies alone.

With the collapse of Soviet communism, and taking into account the intentions and declining capabilities of subversive groups, the Service scaled down its work in this area over a number of years. The Security Service currently has no investigations in this area. During the financial year 1997/98 only 0.3% of the Service’s resources were allocated to the remnants of this work, predominantly to pay the pensions of retired agents

Each year the Security Service submits its analysis of the various threats and, thus, its priorities and plans for the future, for scrutiny and validation by an inter-departmental Whitehall committee. This committee, known as SO(SSPP), also reviews the Service’s performance against the previous year’s plans. It is a sub-committee of the Official Committee on Security (SO), ‘SSPP’ standing for ‘Security Service Priorities and Performance’. Its terms of reference include the review of the Service’s performance against plans and objectives, and examination of future Security Service priorities. The committee is chaired by the Home Office and its membership comprises senior officials drawn from a range of departments with particular knowledge of the Service’s work in countering threats.

The Security Service is not the only organisation with responsibilities bearing on national security, or involved in collecting intelligence about security threats. Others play important roles within their own specific functions, notably the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Departments of State and the law enforcement agencies. The Security Service works as an integral part of the UK’s overall intelligence effort, alongside SIS and GCHQ. The three agencies assist one another in the pursuit of their functions. The Service is in close contact with relevant departments in its work, particularly the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Northern Ireland Office. There is a close operational relationship between the Service and UK police forces, who are responsible for taking many of the actions arising from the Service’s work. The Service also cooperates closely with other UK law enforcement bodies, such as HM Customs and Excise, and with the armed services. Overseas, the Service receives assistance from a wide range of foreign security and intelligence services (nearly 100 in all). These productive relationships are key to the Service’s ability to tackle threats to UK interests internationally.

The particular role of the Security Service is to: investigate, obtain and then to collate, analyse and assess secret intelligence about threats; to act, and enable others to act, to counter specific threats; to keep Government, and others as appropriate, informed of the threats, and to advise on the response, including protective security measures; to provide relevant assistance to other agencies, organisations and departments.

In its approach to its work the Service aims to achieve a strategic advantage over the ‘targets’ of its investigations. Over time, the Service seeks to build up a detailed body of knowledge about target organisations, their key personalities, infrastructure, plans and capabilities. This enables the Service to assess the level and nature of the threat they pose which, in turn, informs the further deployment of intelligence resources to counter their activities. This is a cyclical process involving adjustments being made continually on the basis of new intelligence or events.

The assessment of threats is thus a central and distinctive component of the Service’s work and provides the basis of decisions about resource allocation, counter-action and protective measures. The Service’s judgments about the magnitude of the various threats to national security, and hence the distribution of the Service’s efforts, are subject to scrutiny and validation by a senior inter-departmental committee (SO(SSPP)) and then by Ministers. Similarly the Service’s judgments on its priorities are adjusted in the light of the national requirements for intelligence drawn up by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which are also approved by Ministers. Sources of Intelligence

In carrying out its statutory functions the Service draws on the following principal sources of secret intelligence: the interception of communications; eavesdropping, which involves covertly monitoring the speech of targets under investigation; surveillance (following and observing); and agents within target organisations.

In Security Service terminology an ‘agent’ is a human source working within or close to a target organisation, who provides intelligence in secret to the Service. Agents are not members of the Service.

At any one time the Service may be conducting many investigations, but only a few will draw on the full range of techniques. In planning deployments, the Service aims to operate with the minimum of intrusion and expense, and in proportion to the threat. In complex investigations, several different techniques will be used in combination, and much of the skill lies in deciding the most effective blend.

Organisations which pose a threat to national security often go to considerable lengths to prevent and detect efforts to investigate their activities. The Security Service aims to gather intelligence while ensuring that the targets under investigation remain unaware of the Service’s interest in them. Clearly there is a need to prevent the compromise of a potentially successful investigation while it is running, but the Service also needs to look to the future. Keeping secret the details of intelligence methods is important if the Service is to retain them for use in future intelligence operations. Secrecy is also vital to ensure the safety of individuals, including agents.

The Security Service Act makes the Director General responsible for ensuring that there are effective arrangements within the Service to control the acquisition and disclosure of information. A major aspect of this control is a structure of internal mechanisms designed to ensure that the Service responds only to genuine threats, and does so with proper regard for the law, proportionately to the threat, and with appropriately senior authorization for intrusive measures. These essential safeguards are also designed to allow fast-moving investigations to proceed swiftly, with proper authorization, but without being hampered by unnecessary bureaucracy.

Operations to intercept mail and communications on the public telecommunications network must be specifically authorised by a warrant signed by the Secretary of State under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 (IOCA). Interception warrants may only be issued if the Secretary of State considers that the warrant is necessary in the interests of national security, or for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the UK against threats from overseas, or in order to prevent or detect serious crime.

The Intelligence Services Act 1994 provides for the issue of ‘property’ warrants by the Secretary of State. The effect of a property warrant is to authorise otherwise unlawful entry into, or interference with, someone’s property – for example, for the purpose of eavesdropping or conducting a clandestine search. Property warrants may only be issued if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the proposed action is necessary on the grounds that it is likely to be of substantial value in assisting the Service to fulfil its functions, and that what the action seeks to achieve cannot reasonably be achieved in another way. It is usually the Home Secretary who issues interception and property warrants for the Security Service.

All intended operations of this sort are subject to extensive scrutiny both within the Service and outside, for example at the Home Office. Final authorization is a matter for the Secretary of State and is only given on the basis of a formal submission which contains a detailed account of why the warrant is required. The submission also sets out the nature of the threat, the intelligence background, and confirms that the scope of the operation falls within the statutory functions of the Service. Applications for warrants must be approved by senior managers within the Service, and are then scrutinised by senior officials before submission to the Secretary of State. Arrangements are in place for the most urgent cases to be processed quickly.

Agents represent one of the most important sources of secret intelligence. Agent operations are run by specially trained officers and can last for long periods, sometimes for many years. The Service attaches particular importance to ensuring that its agents – many of whom are inevitably at risk through their work for the Service – are managed securely. Management arrangements for agent operations are also designed to make sure that the case is kept under proper control, drawing on advice from the Service’s legal advisers as necessary. For instance, a key objective is to avoid placing the agent in the role of agent provocateur, by enticing those on whom he or she is reporting to commit criminal acts which they would not otherwise have committed.

The Service pays close attention to the personal welfare of its agents, both during their agent career and after their active work for the Service has ended.

Surveillance operations involve the covert observation of targets under investigation in order to obtain intelligence about their movements and the identities of those with whom they are in contact. Surveillance is carried out by highly skilled, specialist officers who may work in vehicles, on foot or from fixed observation posts. The Service’s surveillance section is practiced at operating in concert with others, particularly the police.

Intelligence operations rely on high quality record-keeping and information management systems. Some intelligence leads are too fragmentary or imprecise to be of immediate value. Nevertheless, small details – for example, of the membership and modus operandi of target organisations – are important because they provide the raw material on which the assessment of individual threats is based, against which new intelligence is judged, and from which further investigations can be developed. The Service’s record-keeping is central to supporting the capacity for sustained, integrated research and analysis which underpins all of the Service’s work.

The Service’s records include both paper files and computer records. Paper files remain for the present the main working documents of the Service, but computer-based documents are becoming increasingly important. The Service also makes extensive use of computer systems for the indexing and retrieval of its records. No government department or other agency has access to the Service’s databases, although the relevant authorities will be given access as necessary to specific information for the purpose of court cases. Within the Service there are additional controls which limit access to particularly sensitive data relating to the Service’s operations and investigations. Detailed criteria govern the opening of files on individuals and organisations. These criteria specify the circumstances in which opening a file and initiating enquiries are justified within the terms of the Service’s statutory functions. They are kept under continual review and are formally checked for currency, relevance and propriety on an annual basis. In his report to Parliament for 1991, the Commissioner under the Security Service Act described in detail the Service’s controls on its files.

The Service currently holds in total about 440,000 files which have been opened at some time since its establishment in 1909. Of these, approximately 35,000 files relate to Service administration, policy and staff, and 40,000 concern subjects and organisations studied by the Service. About 75,000 files relate to people or groups of people who have never been investigated by the Service such as those who have received protective security advice. This leaves about 290,000 files which relate to individuals who, at some time during the last 90 years, may have been the subject of Security Service enquiry or investigation. Of this 290,000 some 40,000 have been reduced to microfilm and placed in a restricted category to which Security Service staff have access only for specific research purposes. A further 230,000 files are closed so that staff may use them where necessary in the course of their current work, but may not make enquiries about the subjects of the files.

Therefore the great majority of the Service’s file holdings do not relate to individuals who may be under current investigation by the Service. The number of files which fall within that category is around 20,000. Of that number, about one third relate to foreign nationals – typically members or associates of foreign intelligence services or terrorist groups, leaving approximately 13,000 active files on UK citizens.

The Service must take account of a number of potentially conflicting factors when considering the long-term retention of files which are no longer of current interest. There are some specific legal requirements. First, the Service has a responsibility to provide the Security Service Tribunal with any details it requires of enquiries made about a complainant, or of any disclosure made for vetting purposes, since the Security Service Act came into force in December 1989; relevant records must therefore be retrievable. The Service must also comply with the requirements of the Public Records Act 1958 in identifying records of historical interest for permanent retention and eventual transfer to the Public Record Office. In practice, this means retaining files for future release that would otherwise have been destroyed as obsolete. The Service receives advice from the Public Record Office in judging which files to retain on historical grounds.

In November 1997 the Service transferred to the Public Record Office the first tranche of its own historical archives: its surviving records from the First World War. In considering the release of historical papers, the Service must take account of the need to protect former staff and agents. It remains a fundamental principle that the identities of agents must be protected. Privacy issues are also important. The Service must consider carefully whether it is proper to release into the public domain intelligence records which may reflect adversely on an individual who was suspected of criminality (for example, as a possible spy) but was never tried in court. Aside from these specific requirements, the general principle underlying the Service’s file retention policy is that it seeks to retain only those records which will assist it in fulfilling its functions under the Security Service Act. The Service therefore keeps under review whether it might need its older records to fulfil its functions at a later time, such as for future investigations prompted by new intelligence. There is a balance to be struck between the possible intelligence value of retaining files and the need to ensure that files are not kept unnecessarily.

In the period between the Service’s formation in 1909 and the early 1970s, large numbers of files (well over 175,000) were destroyed as they became obsolete or following a major contraction in the Service, most notably after the two World Wars. This sometimes caused problems, for example in the late 1960s when the Service faced difficulties investigating some spy cases because relevant records had been destroyed. It therefore became the Service’s policy to retain records indefinitely. However, in the early 1990s, following the collapse of Soviet communism and the associated decline in the threat from subversion, the review and destruction process was reinstated. Since then more than 110,000 files have been destroyed or earmarked for destruction. The files under review for possible destruction have included those opened for counter-subversion reasons, and retained because Soviet and Warsaw Pact intelligence services had in the past sought to recruit spies from within certain subversive groups.

Since 1992 the Service’s work has led to its becoming increasingly engaged in the criminal justice process. Intelligence material has been either adduced in evidence, or disclosed to the defence as ‘unused material’. This has happened principally in the context of the Service’s counter-terrorist work. Security Service officers gave evidence at nine trials between 1992 and April 1998, all of which led to convictions. The duty of prosecutors to make material available to the defence in criminal cases is set out in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. The Act recognises that the duty of disclosure must accommodate the need to protect sensitive information, the disclosure of which could damage important aspects of the public interest, such as national security. However, it is the courts – not the Service or the Government – that ultimately decide what must be disclosed in particular cases.

When planning and carrying out intelligence investigations that may lead to a prosecution, the Service has constantly in mind the requirements of both the law of evidence and the duty of disclosure. Security Service officers, working closely with members of law enforcement agencies, seek to ensure that operations are properly coordinated with a view to the possible use of the intelligence as evidence in court. For these reasons, as well as to ensure proper internal controls, the Service keeps detailed records of its operations, including all meetings with agents, eavesdropping, search and surveillance operations.

Where an investigation leads to a prosecution, the defence must be provided with material as required by the 1996 Act. Prosecuting counsel considers the Service’s records and advises which of them are disclosable. If disclosure would cause real damage to the public interest by, for example, compromising the identity of an agent or a sensitive investigative technique, the prosecutor may apply to the judge for authority to withhold the material. Such applications take the form of a claim for public interest immunity (PII).

Claims for PII in relation to Security Service material are made by a certificate signed by the Home Secretary. In deciding whether a claim is appropriate, the Home Secretary carries out a careful balancing exercise between the competing public interests in the due administration of justice and the protection of national security. This exercise takes account of detailed advice from prosecuting counsel as to the relevance of the material to the issues in the case. If the Home Secretary considers that the balance comes down in favour of non-disclosure, a claim for PII will be made. But the decision on a PII claim is one for the judge alone. If a claim is successful, the judge will keep the decision under review throughout the proceedings.

The Service’s direct access to a network of national and international links is fundamental to its work. The Service liaises closely with a range of organisations and government departments both in the UK and overseas.

The Director General is appointed by the Home Secretary, in consultation with the Prime Minister, and the Service therefore has regular dealings with officials at the Home Office. The Service also has close links with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office, the Northern Ireland Office, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Defence, and advises all government departments and agencies on protective security matters. The central mechanisms for the coordination and resourcing of the UK’s intelligence agencies are based in the Cabinet Office.

For GCHQ and SIS, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) agrees the intelligence requirements and tasking to be laid upon them and these are submitted to Ministers for approval. These requirements are then reviewed annually in a process managed by the Intelligence Coordinator, and performance against them is reviewed at the end of each year by the JIC and by Ministers. The Director General is a member of the JIC. The Security Service contributes intelligence on some of the JIC’s requirements, such as those relating to terrorism, but its overall priorities are determined not by the JIC but by its statutory remit to counter threats. In recognition of this, the Service’s plans and priorities are validated and its performance reviewed annually by a separate Cabinet Office inter-departmental committee established for the purpose, called ‘SO(SSPP)’.

The Security Service works closely with both SIS and GCHQ, whose statutory basis derives from the Intelligence Services Act 1994. The three agencies have different but related functions. The range of mutual assistance is wide, and is based on a closeness of relationship that promotes cooperation when a particular result can be achieved more effectively or more efficiently with another’s help. For example, Security Service and SIS resources are shared in some support areas to avoid duplication. More formally, the Security Service is one of the many departments that place tasking on SIS and GCHQ through the JIC machinery to collect certain categories of intelligence. In the Service’s case, this is intelligence relevant to the Service’s functions to add to its own collection efforts. The Service is a major customer for intelligence produced by SIS and GCHQ in areas such as terrorism.

The Service also works closely with the UK’s 55 police forces, particularly their Special Branches, and with other law enforcement agencies, such as HM Customs and Excise, and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. The Service receives assistance from the police in many areas of its work, provides information and assessments to them on the current threats, and collaborates closely with them in investigations which may result in criminal proceedings.

The Service provides support to the police in two main areas: in the field of serious crime, the Service works exclusively in support of the police and other law enforcement agencies; and in Northern Ireland the Service provides support to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which has the lead role for intelligence work on terrorism related to Northern Ireland. (The Service has the equivalent role for all aspects of terrorism outside Northern Ireland.) The Service also works with the armed services on a range of security matters.

With Foreign Security and Intelligence Services Although the Service is charged with protecting national security as it relates to UK interests both in the UK and overseas, its primary focus is domestic and most of its staff are based in London. In many areas of its work it in consequence relies heavily on the support of SIS and seeks assistance from foreign security and intelligence services. To this end, the Service has links with nearly 100 services worldwide.

The Security Service is a civilian organisation and its officers have no executive powers, such as the authority to detain or arrest people. It is not a ‘secret police force’. Security Service investigations are shared with the police or other law enforcement agencies when there is a prospect of the arrest of people who are committing or planning criminal offences. In recent years, the Service has developed and applied procedures which enable its intelligence to be admitted as evidence in criminal proceedings. In addition, the Service may recommend to the Home Office or to the Foreign Office that known terrorists or foreign intelligence officers, for example, be refused entry to the UK, or be deported or expelled. However, the decision whether to do so lies outside the Service.

Media reporting sometimes reveals confusion about the geographical scope of the Service’s work. Threats to national security often come from abroad – for example, from foreign intelligence services or from foreign terrorist groups. Moreover, the scope of national security extends beyond the British Isles: British interests worldwide include diplomatic premises and staff, British companies and investments, and British citizens living or travelling abroad. Security threats to British interests anywhere in the world fall within the scope of the Service’s functions as set out in the Security Service Act. In dealing with security threats overseas the Service cooperates closely intelligence agencies.

The Service does not kill people or arrange their assassination. It is subject to the rule of law in just the same way as other public bodies.

The Service’s role in the vetting of candidates for employment in sensitive posts is based solely on checks against its records. Decisions on employing staff are the responsibility of the department concerned and the Service does not investigate or interview candidates on their behalf. The Security Service Act stipulates that the Service may only disclose information for use in deciding whether someone should be employed in sensitive work if it does so in accordance with arrangements approved by the Home Secretary. If, on checking, the Service finds that it has a substantial and relevant security record on an applicant, it may provide a summary assessment of the security information. However, the mere existence of a Security Service record does not necessarily mean that an assessment will be made. There is no ‘blacklist’.

The Service does not carry out inquiries into leaks of information from Government, except where national security may be affected. As part of its protective security role, it does give advice to Government on security policy and practice and its protective security section 39 carries out audits of security arrangements within other departments on request. But it has no ‘policing’ role.

It has often been alleged that in the past the Service systematically investigated trade unions and various pressure groups, such as the National Union of Mineworkers and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The Service has never investigated people simply because they were members or office-holders of trade unions or campaigning organisations. But subversive groups have in the past sought to infiltrate and manipulate such organisations as a way of exerting political influence. To fulfil its function of protecting national security, the Service therefore investigated individual members of bona fide organisations when there were grounds to believe that their actions were "intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means". The Service investigated the activities of the subversive groups, but not the organisations they sought to penetrate.

The subversive threat to parliamentary democracy in the UK is now negligible and the Service accordingly has no current investigations in this area.

The Service is sometimes alleged to be responsible for routinely monitoring the private lives of people because they have a high public profile, including members of the Royal Family, Government Ministers, and Members of Parliament. This is not the case. For example in 1993, the Prime Minister, John Major, confirmed that the Service had had no involvement in any interception of the communications of members of the Royal Family.

The Service only investigates individuals whose activities fall within its statutory remit under the Security Service Act.

No member of the public is permitted to see any Security Service files, except for historical records which have been declassified and released by the Public Record Office. Confidentiality is essential to protect details of investigational and operational techniques and to maintain the effectiveness of the Service. The dangers that would be posed by, for example, members of terrorist groups or foreign intelligence services embarking on ‘fishing expeditions’ in the Service’s records are obvious. However, under the Security Service Act, anyone who is "aggrieved by anything which he believes that the Service has done in relation to him" may complain to the Security Service Tribunal. The Tribunal has access to any information it requires to adjudicate on a complaint.

At any one time there is a range of threats of differing types, which the Service must address with finite resources. A key task for the Service therefore is to ensure that resources are allocated according to the nature and comparative gravity of those threats. Annually, the Service’s judgments on these matters are validated externally, including by Ministers. The chart below gives an idea of how the relative proportions of the Service’s effort against the main threats have varied since 1990.

Security threats to the UK have changed greatly in recent years, most notably with the end of the Cold War, which in turn ended the Service’s long-standing focus on the very substantial threat posed by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. In parallel, the threat to British parliamentary democracy from subversion diminished over a number of years and is now negligible. However, the fall of the Soviet bloc generated instability throughout the former Soviet Union and beyond; that instability and the loss of centralized control added to other threats, including the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and the spread of organised crime. Espionage against the UK has continued, although the overall level of threat has reduced. Terrorism has persisted throughout.

Since the late 1960s, the Security Service has been involved in combating terrorist threats to British interests, both within the UK and overseas. The proportion of the Service’s resources devoted to countering both Northern Ireland-related and international terrorism has increased substantially over the years. In recent years terrorist attacks of all kinds worldwide have averaged almost 60 a month, so terrorism is likely to remain a focus of activity by the Service. Countering terrorism is a complex task, not least because of the difficulty of obtaining accurate information about the intentions and activities of secretive and sometimes highly organised groups, many of which are based in inaccessible areas overseas, sometimes under the protection of regimes whose interests they also serve. The collective effort – both nationally and internationally – as well as the techniques involved, have had to keep pace with the increasing sophistication of terrorists and their operating methods.

In an open and democratic society, the initial advantage is likely to lie with the terrorists. In particular, there are limits to what can be done to prevent attacks which are planned and launched from abroad. The Service’s principal objective is therefore, over time, to erode the capacity of terrorist groups to initiate and sustain campaigns against British interests and those of Britain’s allies. There have been significant successes – many of them invisible to the public – in preventing acts of terrorism both in the UK and abroad, in helping law enforcement agencies to arrest terrorists and in otherwise disrupting their activities.

Between 1969, when the most recent phase of the Troubles began in Northern Ireland, and April 1998, more than 3,000 people lost their lives, and more than 30,000 were injured as a result of terrorist violence. Substantial economic damage has also been caused. In addition to the human casualties, the cost of city-centre bombings, such as those in the City of London in April 1992 and April 1993, in London’s docklands in February 1996 and in Manchester in June 1996, was substantial.

The main terrorist organisations on the republican side – the Provisional IRA (PIRA), Republican Sinn Fein’s ‘military wing’, which calls itself the ‘Continuity IRA’, and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) – have sought, by violent means, to create a unified republic in the island of Ireland. Although they have been most active in Northern Ireland, republican terrorist groups, especially PIRA, have carried their attacks to the British mainland and to the continent of Europe. Foreign nationals as well as British subjects have been killed and injured as a result. British politicians have been killed and on two occasions PIRA has attempted to kill members of the Cabinet: the bombing of the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton in 1984 and the mortar attack on Downing Street in 1991.

Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary organisations, notably the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), have all been involved in a violent campaign in response to what they claim to regard as the threat posed to the protestant community in Northern Ireland by republican terrorism. Much of their activity has been essentially sectarian in character, often resulting in the random murder of Catholics who may have no connections of any kind with republican terrorism. Before the ceasefire declarations in August 1994, loyalist groups were murdering more people than PIRA. Both loyalist and republican groups, especially PIRA, have for some years sought support from outside the island of Ireland to sustain their campaigns of violence. Such support has included the provision of weapons and finance. PIRA’s principal supplier during the 1980s was Libya, but the organisation has also acquired weaponry and related equipment via sympathisers in North America; through thefts; and from the arms black market in Europe.

Other groups have been less ambitious, relying mainly on small scale purchases from dealers and criminal contacts. Funds have frequently been obtained through criminal activities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but they have also been obtained further afield – for example by loyalist groups in Britain and by republican groups from sympathisers overseas. In Northern Ireland the Security Service works in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in respect of Irish-related terrorism. On the mainland of Great Britain, the Security Service was given lead responsibility for intelligence work against Irish republican terrorism in 1992. This role was in addition to its existing work against loyalist terrorist activity on the mainland and against all overseas manifestations of Irish-related terrorism (such as weapons procurement and PIRA attacks in Europe).

Between 1992 and April 1998, the Service’s work with the police against Irish republican terrorism resulted in 18 convictions for serious terrorist-related offences. Many intended attacks, including large city-centre bombings, were prevented. In addition, various attempts by loyalist terrorists to obtain weaponry from the mainland have been disrupted in joint operations with the police.

The Service’s work on the threat from terrorism relating to Northern Ireland is set against the backdrop of political developments, including, significantly, the agreement reached in April 1998 which set out the basis for a political settlement, subject to referendums North and South of the border. As with all of its work, the Service monitors closely any changes in the nature and level of the threat, including that posed by groups opposed to the peace process (such as the recently created 32 County Sovereignty Committee), and makes adjustments to the effort deployed accordingly.

For many years the UK has also been exposed to the threat of terrorism originating overseas. British interests, and the interests of its friends and allies, have been threatened and attacked at home and abroad. Nationalist or separatist struggles in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East have given rise to such terrorism, while minorities, religious extremists and others have used violent methods to advance their causes. As an illustration, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) has been responsible for widespread massacres in Algeria itself, as well as a series of bombs in France in 1995; the Palestinian group HAMAS mounted a series of suicide bomb attacks in Israel; and Egyptian terrorists carried out three major attacks on tourist buses between 1995 and 1997, as well as an attack on tourists in Luxor in November 1997 in which 58 people (including six Britons) were murdered. These and other similar groups have supporters in the UK. Britain’s involvement in multi-national peacekeeping and similar international initiatives – such as in the Gulf and in former Yugoslavia – has also resulted in a terrorist threat to British interests. For example, buildings used by British and allied forces were the targets of large vehicle-bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996.

British citizens and businesses are vulnerable to terrorism, both as targets in their own right and as bystanders to others’ quarrels. British soldiers, officials, business people and tourists have all been the victims of terrorism. As well as widely-reported events such as the July 1994 bomb attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in London, recent years have seen Britons involved in terrorist-related kidnappings in Kashmir, Indonesia, Colombia, Chechnya, Yemen and Cambodia, and caught up in the terrorist seizure of the Japanese Ambassador’s residence in Lima in December 1996. In addition, some terrorist groups and their supporters have sought to use Britain as a place to raise funds, procure equipment and recruit new members – activities which are in themselves usually non-violent, but which can often contribute significantly to terrorism elsewhere.

Some states have used – and some continue to use – terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy, either by means of their intelligence services or through sponsorship of surrogate terrorist groups. For example, the investigation of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 resulted in warrants being issued for the arrest of two Libyan officials, believed to have been involved in the attack. The targets of state terrorism have also included their own dissidents and émigrés. State sponsorship has included the provision of weapons, training, finance and refuge to terrorists.

Like other industrialised states, the UK has been affected by developments in technology, and particularly in information technology and military weaponry, which give terrorists access to greater sophistication and know-how than a generation ago. The Security Service needs to keep abreast of these developments in order to continue to counter the threat posed. In addition, the Service investigates any indications that terrorists or other extremists might be developing or trying to obtain chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological materials as terrorist weapons.

As in the field of Northern Ireland-related terrorism, the Security Service works closely with UK law enforcement agencies and with overseas security and intelligence services to disrupt terrorist activity – not only specific attacks, where pre-emptive intelligence permits, but also the procurement of weapons and funds. Recent years have seen both kinds of disruption successfully employed against UK-based terrorists or their supporters. In responding to terrorist attacks against British interests overseas, the Security Service works closely with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and with both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the British mission in the country concerned. The Service also advises the FCO and other relevant government departments on the changing terrorist threats to British interests abroad.

During the Cold War the Security Service devoted much of its effort to countering the skilful and well-resourced intelligence services of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. The collapse of Soviet communism in 1991 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union brought fundamental changes to this area of the Service’s work. Most Central and East European Intelligence Services, formerly little more than Soviet surrogates, were reformed to serve new, democratically elected governments. The Security Service, along with other western security and intelligence agencies, took the opportunity to assist many of them in their efforts to reorganize and reorientate their work and functions. This assistance included advice on how to integrate their intelligence machinery within the framework of a democratic system of government. These new relationships have developed to allow the exchange of information on subjects of shared concern, such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

A range of countries seek to advance their political, economic and military objectives using covert methods against the UK, and the spectrum of interests on which they are seeking to gather information is wider than in the past. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia and the UK have developed a new and increasingly cooperative relationship. Despite this, however, Russia has retained its substantial and active overseas intelligence collection effort. After a period of retrenchment in the early 1990s, both the civilian and military Russian intelligence services renewed their efforts to send intelligence officers to London. 

The Security Service’s counter-espionage work is focused on: investigating leads that may result in the identification of spies who are providing foreign countries with sensitive information damaging to the UK’s national security or economic well-being; and disrupting the activities of those foreign intelligence officers who ‘talent-spot’ and recruit as agents individuals who have access to British secrets.

A few of the spies who have been identified in the UK in the past were controlled directly from abroad, but the great majority have been run by foreign intelligence officers based in this country. Historically, the Government has insisted that nationals of certain countries obtain visas before being allowed to enter the UK. This allows the Service to recommend, where necessary, that a visa be refused on national security grounds. Over the years, this precaution has severely hampered foreign intelligence services in their efforts to place intelligence officers in the UK to recruit and run agents.

As well as those who work under cover of postings in the diplomatic community, foreign intelligence officers have also tried to gain access to sensitive information in the UK by masquerading as trade officials, businessmen or members of scientific delegations. The greater flexibility of modern travel and the growing emphasis on the acquisition of sensitive commercial, economic and technical information, mean that foreign intelligence services may increasingly use short-term visits of this sort as cover for their intelligence operations. On their home ground, or in other countries where they encounter little opposition from the local security agencies, foreign intelligence services are able to be far more aggressive in their espionage efforts against British interests. Consequently, for many years the Service has worked with other government departments, especially the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, to protect government personnel and premises overseas from espionage attack.

Since 1992 the Service has played a part in countering the threat posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), namely nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their strategic means of delivery (usually ballistic missiles). The collapse of the former Soviet Union has led to increased dangers in this area. The sale of WMD components and missiles is an attractive source of revenue for economically hard-pressed countries. There are ready buyers, particularly in the Middle East, for materials either to rebuild confiscated stocks or to provide a deterrent against an aggressive neighbour. More than 20 countries are currently seeking to evade international controls to develop WMD capability. Some are hostile to the UK and its allies; some have unstable regimes. Iraq’s use of chemical weapons in the past has been well publicized.

There is therefore a substantial threat from proliferation which goes far wider than the UK. The response of the international community in seeking to prevent proliferation is expressed in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which the UK, as a signatory, has a duty to act against proliferators. The direct threat to the UK is twofold: first, that UK armed forces will be exposed to the threat of WMD when deployed overseas; and secondly, that the UK will itself come within reach as longer-range missiles are acquired by potentially hostile or unstable countries.

Much of the material, technology and expertise required for WMD programmes can be found in the UK. Although the UK has stringent export 18 controls in place, the countries that are trying to procure equipment and know-how use increasingly sophisticated, covert and devious methods to circumvent these controls. These include the use of front companies and middlemen, and of students sent to the UK for postgraduate study. There are also increasing indications of the use of non-proliferating countries as apparent destinations for WMD-related materials, which are then shipped on to their true customers.

The Security Service, acting in cooperation with other government departments and agencies, aims to counter proliferation activity in the UK by: investigating attempts by proliferator countries to procure materials and expertise from the UK which could aid WMD programmes; investigating the potential benefits to WMD programmes that students and academics from countries of concern may obtain from study in the UK (the intangible transfer of technology). When necessary the Service may advise that such students and academics should be refused entry to the UK; and visiting UK companies, chambers of commerce, universities, and professional and trade associations to raise their awareness of the activities and requirements of proliferator countries, and to obtain information on their dealings with them. For instance, more than 700 companies have been visited since the start of the programme in 1992.

On 14 October 1996 new legislation extended the Service’s statutory remit to include supporting the law enforcement agencies in work on serious crime. This change in the Service’s remit reflected the Government’s intention that Security Service expertise should also be deployed in the fight against serious crime. The Service’s work in this area has been financed from within existing Service resources. The 1996 legislation makes it clear that the primary responsibility for work against serious crime remains with law enforcement agencies. Close working relationships with those agencies, including the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) are therefore central to the way that the Service carries out its work in this area. The legislation requires there to be arrangements governing how the Service fulfils its role in serious crime work. Under these arrangements, the Service is tasked to take on investigations on a case-by-case basis, where it is agreed that its particular skills, knowledge or capabilities are likely to help the investigation. The Service will then bring to bear its investigative capabilities as required, with a view to assisting the law enforcement agency to collect the necessary intelligence.

Subversion in the UK is essentially an historical phenomenon. The Security Service Act does not use the term ‘subversion’, but provides a definition of it by reference to actions which are "intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, 19 industrial or violent means". The concept of subversion was therefore focused on hostility to the democratic process. It embraced both extreme left wing (Communist, Trotskyist) and extreme right wing (Fascist) subversive groups, and included those whose allegiance lay with countries hostile to the UK. Historically, Britain faced a very real threat from subversive organisations which sought to undermine parliamentary democracy – and had the capability to do so – most notably during the Cold War. Indeed some of these organisations made no secret of their intentions. Their activities were of concern to successive governments and were an important subject of attention by the Security Service. A particular focus of this work was to deny members of such groups access to sensitive government information. This was achieved through the vetting process announced in 1948 by the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. Subversive groups (including, in the past, Communist organisations) have sought to infiltrate and manipulate bona fide organisations, such as trade unions or pressure groups, as a way of exercising influence out of proportion to any support they could achieve through the ballot box. The Service investigated the activities of the subversive groups, but not the organisations they sought to penetrate. The Service never investigated people merely because they were members of trade unions or because they campaigned on particular issues such as nuclear disarmament.

Since the late 1980s, and particularly following the end of the Cold War, the threat from subversive organisations to British parliamentary democracy has declined and is now insignificant.

The Service also works to reduce the vulnerability to those threats through its contribution to the protection of government assets and the UK’s critical infrastructure. This aspect of the Service’s work is integral to its function of protecting national security.

Protective security is concerned with protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information and other important assets. It encompasses such problems as how to protect against acts of terrorism; against unauthorised access to buildings or computer systems; and against eavesdropping or interception of sensitive communications. The work has many aspects, including advising on locks and cabinets, passes and passwords, building structures, guards, fences, walls and intruder detection systems. It includes vetting arrangements for those who are authorised to have access to the protected assets, making them aware of threats and encouraging them to act securely. It also includes contingency planning, for when things go wrong. The Security Service provides specialist advice to Government on all of these matters. Its role is threefold: assessing the threats, advising on policy and practice and assisting with the security planning of major projects or important installations.

Protective measures must be appropriate to the threat. The Service’s intelligence branches identify and, as far as possible, take action to counter specific threats to national security. They also study the ways in which hostile organisations operate: for example, the modus operandi of terrorist organisations and the kind of weapons they employ; and the methods used by foreign intelligence services, together with the types of intelligence they are trying to acquire. Such information provides the basis for assessments of the level and type of threat to individual departments and the assets they hold. Taking into account additionally the number of security incidents, such as computer viruses and hacking, theft or accident, the Service is able to provide assessments of the nature and extent of different kinds of threat which need to be protected against.

The development and coordination of the Government’s central policy framework on protective security is the responsibility of the Cabinet Office. The Service provides specialist advice on the practical development of that policy. Where security of IT systems is concerned, the Service operates jointly with the Communications-Electronics Security Group in GCHQ. Within the Government’s central framework each department is responsible for the security of the assets it holds and is required to identify the risks to those assets, drawing on the threat assessments provided by the Service. They then implement security measures to reduce vulnerability to these risks in the most cost-effective way. The Service is able to provide guidance on how to do this, but responsibility for identifying risks and implementing security measures rests with the department itself.

The Service also advises certain organisations outside central government. For example, it advises those parts of industry which are involved in sensitive government defence and other contracts. It also advises those elements of commerce and industry whose services and products are of critical national importance: those which, if damaged, would cause unacceptable economic disruption, widespread loss of services or serious hazard to the public. The industries concerned include air, rail and sea transport, oil, gas, water, telecommunications, power generation and distribution, and banking.

The purpose of personnel security measures, of which vetting forms a part, is to provide an acceptable level of assurance that people with authorised access to sensitive government information or valuable assets will not abuse that access – for example, by passing secret information to a foreign government, or using it for personal financial advantage. As with protective security as a whole, overall policy in this area is set by Government, while individual departments have responsibility for their own security within the framework of that policy. This means that departments conduct their own background enquiries (such as police record checks, references, interviews etc) on applicants to sensitive posts and make their own decisions on whether or not to employ particular individuals. The Security Service does the same for its own staff. The vetting process is overt: security clearance cannot be sought for an individual without his or her consent.

Since before the Second World War, the Security Service has assisted government departments and organisations by providing a service of record-checks on candidates for sensitive posts.

In 1948 the Attlee Government formally introduced security vetting aimed at excluding both communists and fascists from positions where they might damage the security of the state. In support of this policy, during the Cold War the Service sought to identify members of subversive organisations. The ending of the Cold War has substantially altered the view that is taken of individuals with a record of involvement in various subversive organisations, and in recent years the main emphasis has been on protecting government information and important installations from individuals with terrorist connections. The policy of vetting for sensitive positions in government was reaffirmed in 1994 by the Prime Minister, John Major.

The Security Service Act 1989 stipulates that the Service may disclose information for use in deciding whether someone should be employed only if it does so in accordance with arrangements approved by the Home Secretary. Under those arrangements, if the Service finds that it has a relevant record on a candidate for a sensitive post, it will make a brief summary assessment of the suitability of the individual purely on security grounds. In the vast majority of cases, the Service has no record of the individual concerned. The existence of a record does not necessarily imply that an adverse assessment will be submitted. In 1997 the Service gave assessments in fewer than 0.1% of the vetting cases submitted by departments for checks, the majority relating to some degree of connection with terrorism or espionage.

The Security Service’s role in the vetting of an individual by a government department is based solely on its records – the Service does not investigate or interview candidates for sensitive posts, nor does it look into aspects of their character or behaviour. Even where the Service does disclose information in response to a vetting check, its assessment may contain the judgment that the information need not on its own prevent the candidate from having sensitive access. In those cases the department considers whether it has other grounds for doubting reliability before reaching a decision. In respect of the Service’s contribution to vetting by departments, the oversight arrangements that form part of the Security Service Act 1989 provide recourse to the Security Service Tribunal. The Tribunal’s responsibilities include the investigation of complaints from individuals who believe that the Service has improperly disclosed information about them in a vetting context.

National Criminal Intelligence Service

Britain's National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) was launched in April 1992 to provide leadership and excellence in criminal intelligence. The organisation aims to combat the top echelons of crime and seeks the ultimate arrest or disruption of major criminals in the UK. NCIS is one of the first services to be set up in Europe to deal with the development of criminal intelligence on a national scale with approximately 500 staff drawn from the police, Customs and Excise and the Home Office. It aims to help law enforcement and other agencies, at home and abroad, by processing and disseminating information, giving guidance and direction, and analysing major criminal activity.

Apart from a resources division NCIS comprises the Headquarters (HQ), United Kingdom (UK) and International divisions. HQ Division includes an operational support unit, an intelligence co-ordination unit, policy and research unit and a strategic and specialist intelligence branch. The latter's responsibilities vary from organised crime to football hooliganism. Five regional offices in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Wakefield are overseen by the UK Division which also includes a Scottish/Irish Liaison Unit, currently based in London.

The International division manages a network of European Drugs Liaison officers (DLOs) and is linked up with the world-wide DLO network managed by Customs and Excise. The UK Bureau of Interpol is also based within this division enabling NCIS to have direct access to Interpol's 176 member countries.

Information processed by NCIS plays a vital part in tackling serious crime in Britain, and is used to assist police forces in other countries. The service gathers intelligence on offenders ranging from drug traffickers, money launderers and organised criminal groups to paedophiles and football hooligans.

Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard)

In 1829, when Sir Robert Peel was Home Secretary, the first Metropolitan Police Act was passed and the Metropolitan Police Force was established in London. The task of organising and designing the "New Police" undertaken at 4 Whitehall Place, the back of which opened on to a courtyard which had been the site of a residence owned by the Kings of Scotland, known as "Scotland Yard". These headquarters were removed in 1890 to premises on the Victoria Embankment known as "New Scotland Yard." In 1967 further removal took place to a larger and more modern headquarters building at Broadway, S.W.1, which is also known as "New Scotland Yard".

The Commissioner, who heads the Metropolitan Police has traditionally answered directly to the Home Secretary. This dates back to the formation of the Metropolitan Police and reflects its difference from other police forces and its national and international responsibilities. The Metropolitan Police Service performs national functions, such as those in relation to the protection of royalty and countering terrorism in Great Britain. In addition to these two, the MPS has a number of other capital city, and national responsibilities such as the protection of certain members and ex-members of the government and the diplomatic community and assisting with enquiries concerning British interests at home and abroad. These responsibilities make the Metropolitan Police Service unique among UK police forces. The Metropolitan Police Service should not be confused with the City of London Police, which is a separate force responsible for policing The Square Mile in the City of London.

Leading edge technology has been adopted to enhance MPS expertise as national co-ordinators of the police response to terrorism. Inter-agency communication channels continue to be developed in conjunction with the Security Service, the lead authority for counter terrorism intelligence. The Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department has undergone major re-structuring resulting in the amalgamation of Royalty Protection and Royal Palaces on 1 April 1995. The department provides high quality policing to Royal Palaces and other Central London locations with response times usually being measured in seconds rather than minutes.

The Directorate of Intelligence provides unique and specialised services to the MPS, including a number of new responsibilities. The MPS is moving towards becoming a proactive intelligence-led Service. The Technical Support Unit and Surveillance section are recognised as a centre of national and international excellence.

The Scientific Intelligence Unit develop behavioural analysis of the more unusual sexual offences and murders. It is the reception point for identifications as a result of DNA testing and plays a major part in efforts to counter all crime. The Drug Related Violence Intelligence Unit targets and develops intelligence on active criminals operating across London and nationally. The unit has established a database of subjects and an image library in liaison with Commonwealth, European and American countries. The Financial Disclosure Unit is pivotal in informing the MPS of suspect and irregular financial dealings. The unit has developed a software package which is becoming accepted as the standard for financial disclosure units throughout the country.

The Directorate of Intelligence has trained 600 officers in targeting, surveillance and covert photography techniques. The "CRIMINT" computer-based intelligence application has been completed and is being delivered to all MPS police stations. A Service-wide interactive computer-based training package has been developed to accompany the application.

The Special Irish Branch was formed in 1883 to combat the threat from the Fenian movement, whose aim was independence in Ireland and who had been responsible for a series of explosions in London. The Special Irish Branch later became known as the Special Branch and extended its work into Royalty protection with Queen Victoria's Jubilee. While the Special Branch is a division of the police force, in practice it coordinates closely with MI5. Special Branch has continued to develop its role as a conduit of information and intelligence for the MPS and Security Service. In 1995, dedicated liaison teams were devolved to each Area in support of MPS priorities.

The MPS is responsible for day to day management of the National Identification Service (NIS) which includes the National Criminal Record Office and National Fingerprint Collection.


Specialist Operations

SO1 International and Organised Crime

SO2 Department Support Group

SO3 Scenes of Crime Branch

SO4 National Identification Bureau

SO5 Miscellaneous Forces Index

SO6 Fraud Squad

SO7 Support

SO8 Forensic Science Laboratory

SO9 Flying Squad

SO10 Crime Operations Group

SO11 Criminal Intelligence Branch

SO12 Special Branch

SO13 Anti-Terrorist Branch

SO14 Royalty Protection Branch

SO15 Royal Palaces Division

SO16 Diplomatic Protection Branch

SO17 Palace of Westminster Division

SO18 Police National Computer Bureau

SO19 Force Firearms Unit

SO20 Forensic Medical Examiners Branch


Territorial Operations

TO1 General Department Services and HQ

TO3 Area Support

TO4 Public Carriage Office

TO5 Central Ticket Office

TO6 Central Services

TO7 Divisional Support

TO9 Crime and Divisional Policing Policy Branch

TO10 Courts Division

TO14 Traffic

TO18 Public Order Training

TO20 Public Order

TO25 Central Communications Branch

TO26 Air Support Unit

TO27 Mounted Branch

TO28 Police Dog Section

TO29 Thames Division

TO31 Community Affairs Branch -- Vulnerable Groups

TO32 Community Affairs Branch -- Partnership Branch

"Who Dares Wins"

The British SAS (Special Air Service) is one of the world's premier special forces teams. The history of the SAS dates back to WWII, when Captain David Stirling developed the concept while recuperating from a parachute accident. David Stirling attempted to propose his idea to the CO. The guards at the gate wouldn't let him into the building, so Stirling jumped the fence and proceeded to walk into the office. The SAS was initially created as a desert raiding force to weaken Rommel's North African logistics network as well as hinder aircraft operations. Their first successful raid happened in December of 1941, when two groups destroyed 61 aircraft at two airfields. When the force ran out of explosives, SAS soldiers began to use their personal weapons to shoot out the controls. One man, Paddy Mayne, proceeded to rip out the controls with his hands. Another raid was launched soon after; this time twenty seven airplanes were destroyed. 

The SAS operated in Europe as well; in one operation (codenamed Houndsmith),144 men were parachuted with jeeps and supplies into an area close to Dijon, France. All told, the SAS inflicted 7,733 German casualties in Europe. 4,784 prisoners were captured and 700 vehicles were destroyed or captured. 164 railways were cut, seven trains were destroyed and thirty-three were derailed. The SAS was also used to "mop up" German war criminals. They hunted down head SS and Gestapo agents and brought them before the War Crimes Tribune. 

David Stirling was knighted in 1990. He died a few months later at the age of 74. He was awarded the OBE and DSO for actions during WWII. He was nicknamed the "Phantom Major" by his peers. During World War II ,Sir David Stirling was captured by the Germans. Although Hitler had ordered all "special forces" (OSS and SAS) to be executed, David Stirling escaped executions by not saying anything about himself. He was held in various prisons. He proceeded to escape four times, each time being caught. He never gave up though. He was finally moved to Colditz for the rest of the war. His brother, William Stirling, took over his command while David was held prisoner. 

SAS Troop/Individual Skills Boat Troop:

Members of Boat Troop are tasked with the job of waterborne insertion techniques. The Boat Troop's main role is insertion. The soldiers first have to master diving. Diving is taught with Open and Closed (bubbles) Circuit breathing devices. The men learn how to approach a ship, that is underway, and attach a limpet mine. The new Troop members will spend a great deal of time sitting at the bottom of Poole Harbour with some members of it's "sister" unit, the SBS.

Once proficient with that the new troopers will learn methods of infiltration. One of the main forms of transportation is still the Klepper folding kayak. The Klepper was designed during WWII for use by the SAS and Royal Marine Commandos. It has been in service ever since and will probably remain that way for a long time. They will also learn how to handle certain types of boats. Fast patrol boats have a fibreglass hull with an inflatable lip over the top to increase it buoyancy and allow for better manoeuvrability. Rigid Raider boats have also been around for a long time. These are large boats often used to help carry larger amounts of people or cargo to the shore. Also in use is the Gemini inflatable boat. It is used primarily for sending small groups of soldiers onto a shore undetected.

Locking  out of submarines is also taught. This is a very dangerous thing to do. At certain depths the pressure could kill him, if the cold, lack of oxygen, or dark doesn't get to him first. While the SAS would probably not be called upon to assault an oil rig or take down a ship, these are still practiced. When performing these operations, the men usually wear dry suits so that they don't come down with hypothermia. The point man in the group will normally carry the MP5 SD to take out any sentry who may be standing guard. Long rope type ladders (commonly referred to as Jacob's Ladders) are attached to a ship or oil rig using a telescopic pole. The assault team will then use the ladders to gain entry. Snipers are usually put on smaller boats near the target (usually smaller ships to hide among regular sea traffic), or they may be left in the boats to provide security, or they can even be flown in quickly via helicopter as the assault begins. Assaults like these will usually be carried out by members of the SBS.

Demolitions is also a big part of diving. The soldiers must be able to stop a ship or blow up a bridge. Navigations underwater is also taught. All navigation is done using a compass. Being lost underwater, in hostile territory is not a good day. The men also practice heliborne entry into the water. a helicopter some 50 feet above the water will go into the hover and the men will simply jump out . Parachute drops in the water are also very common. The soldiers have to seal their weapons to avoid them getting a jam. This is normally done with either a "dry bag" or using a condom to roll down over the barrel. This has proven to be an effective way of stopping the weapon from jamming.

Mobility is probably one of the oldest skills in the Regiment. Dating back to WWII, the SAS used "gun jeeps" to help provide mobility and heavier fire power. The Mobility Troop of today still has the same role as the SAS soldiers of WWII, to travel deep behind enemy lines and cause havoc on the enemy. 

When a new soldier is assigned to a Mobility Troop, they must master all the skills of an experienced mechanic. They must also learn how to fix a problem while under stress. A lot of Mobility Troop are ex-REME. Their are many types of vehicles in use by the SAS today. Probably the most well known is the "Pink Panther" or "Pinky", so called because the colour of it is almost a pink colour. These are modified Land Rover 110s. They can be armed with a mixture of weapons, such as the Browning .50 Machine gun, Mk-19 40mm grenade launcher, twin or single GPMGs, and the Milan Anti-Tank Weapon. Mobility Troop also has the Land Rover 90s. These are smaller versions of the 110, but lack weapon mounts. Also in limited use is the LSV, or Light Strike Vehicle. It is a two seat dune buggy with a mount for a .50 machine gun or Mk-19 40mm grenade launcher. Also available is the Honda 350cc Quad. It is small and can be held easily in a helicopter or small boat. Last but certainly not least is the Honda 250cc motorbike. It is quiet and can be used for forward reconnaissance. During Desert Storm, the motorbikes proved to be invaluable. One "outrider" was on a patrol with a few other bikes deep behind enemy lines. When they the Iraqis spotted the bikes they took off and the SAS went after them. The outriders pulled in front of the trucks and made them stop. When the rest of the soldiers engaged the trucks two outriders got caught in the cross fire. One died. 

Air Troop is maybe one of the most dangerous jobs in all of the military. The main objective of Air Troops is to jump out of a plane at 25,000 feet and land deep behind enemy lines. Members of 22 SAS who are in Air Troops take on some of the most difficult challenges. In the SAS the men of Air Troop as "Ice Cream Boys", due to their tans and sunglasses so often worn by them.

Air Troop has two favoured ways of infiltration. These are HALO (high altitude, low opening) or HAHO (high altitude, high opening). HALO jumps take place at about 25,000 feet usually. The soldier will jump out and free fall till about 2,000 feet and open his chute. This allows the parachutist to land close to a target yet the plane will never be seen or heard.  Both of these types of parachuting are very dangerous. Parachuting with heavy loads, the thin silk parachutes can collapse quite easily in the thin air.

Air Troop personnel must wear large, pilot type helmets when jumping from high altitudes. An oxygen mask is hooked onto it. This provides the soldier with air while he is parachuting. The trooper must also wear goggles so he can see. His equipment is carried between is legs and is lowered on a cord just prior to landing on the ground. His weapon will be carried under one of his arms, ready to fire. The soldier will also wear an altimeter on his wrist and heavy clothes to protect him from the cold. A reserve chute is usually carried in the front.

One of the first things people think about when they hear "SAS" (besides soldiers in black kit storming a building) is  Selection. Selection is designed to break people. Only about 10 out of 125 will make it. For any soldier Selection is the ultimate test of endurance and mental strain. Selection is broken down into 3 phases.

The first part is the Special Forces Briefing Course. This is a joint  three day class to show potential SAS and SBS recruits what is expected of them. Class room lectures and physical training take place. You MUST pass this course to be allowed onto Selection. They are shown films and are given the chance to get some insight into Selection. For certain reasons this is not considered (by SpecWar Net) to be one of the THREE MAIN phases of Selection. This should be combined with the first part.

The First three weeks of Selection is held mostly in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains in Wales. Soldiers are expected to increase their weight in their bergens (rucks) and distances will also become greater. If a soldier fails a test more then twice is  RTUed (Returned To Unit). The soldier is allowed to repeat the course again if he is willing. One of the most notorious parts is the "Fan Dance". This is a march over the Brecons. It should take about 4 hours to complete. Another part and probably the most famous, is the Long Drag. It is held on the last day of the three weeks. It is about 40 miles over the Brecons. The soldier will now be carrying a 55 pound bergen (if it is under weight a DS will make sure you get the proper weight). Remember this doesn't include water and food! The passing times range from 20 to 24 hours to complete this course. Although TA members get a little slack (about 30 min.). If the weather is good try to get in under 20 hours.

It is important to remember that your bergen weight includes water or food. Bergen weights will vary through out the course. It will range from 30 pounds to 70 pounds, with an average of about 50 to 55 pounds. Blisters are common, and they should be taken care of quickly. By this point maybe about 40 men are left.

Jungle Phase is the next hurdle. SAS and SBS soldiers will be integrated into patrols. You will learn to travel, live, and fight in the jungle. The jungle will have different affects on people. Some will enjoy it, others will hate it. Disease is also another thing to worry about. Everything has to be taken care of (cuts, blisters, and eating equipment) to prevent sickness which may get you kicked off the course. "It is good advice to get yourself into the jungle before you attend Selection", says Barry Davies (18 year veteran of the SAS) in his new book Joining the SAS. In the jungle you will learn to fight and use demolitions. Also the art of making a camp is also taught. Rain is almost non-stop, so equipment must be looked after.

By the end of the Jungle Phase, only about 20 men will be left. It is time to move on to Escape and Evasion and TQ ( or Tactical Questioning). E&E is taught my members of the SAS and SBS. The soldiers learn how to catch food and live off the land. Former POWs (or Prisoners Of War) also talk to the classes. They tell them about their situations and how they made it. Escaping is also taught. The Course ends with a final exercise. The men are paired up with other students (no SAS or SBS personnel are put together) from other branches and units, such as pilots from the RAF and RN  and other units. The men are given only old WWII jackets and some ripped pants, and boots that are barely being held together. They are then turned loose in a large wooded area. The men must check in with various check points. The soldiers are on the run usually for about 3 days. A "hunter force" is always in pursuit. These forces are usually from other Army units, such as the Paras, Ghurkhas, or Green Jackets. They are tasked with hunting down the recruits. By the end ALL the recruits are captured. Now they face TQ. TQ is usually considered an easy part Selection. They must stick to the "Big 4" and say nothing else except, "I'm sorry I can't answer that question sir/mam." Women are sometimes brought in, and the men are forced to strip. The women then makes jokes about the man's body parts. It is not usually seen as hard by the SAS although, usually one or two men fail.

After completion the remaining class will go it's separate ways. Royal Marines are given the chance to say whether they want to go onto the SBS and even more training and Selection or whether they would like to stay on with the SAS. For the SAS men, this is a great moment, when they receive the beret and famous "Winged Dagger" beret badge. Training is far from over though. For the SBS men they will go on to Poole where they will learn the trade of their unit. 

In 1947 the Artists Rifles was combined with 21 SAS to form 21 SAS (Artists) Volunteers. The 2 and one in 21 stood for 1 and 2 SAS (in reversed order).  In 1959 23 SAS was born, a unit made up of the former MI-9 escape experts of World War II. The two Territorial Army SAS Regiments are still 21 and 23 SAS. These Regiments train to the limits like their sister unit, 22 SAS. They are made up of Territorial volunteers. A civilian can attempt to join the ranks of either 21 or 23 SAS. The two Regiments war time role is long range recon. Each squadron also has a member of 22 SAS attached to it. In early 1990's the TA SAS sent some of it's men to Bosnia to act as peacekeepers to help relieve the SAS of such tasks. This was done so 22 SAS could continue with missions, such as hunting down war criminals and performing reconnaissance(1). The team was a mixed group of volunteers from 21 and 23 SAS. 

21 SAS is based in London. It does however have squadrons spread over much of England including: Dulwich, Hitchin, Bramley, and Newport. 23 SAS is based in Birmingham with other squadrons in Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Dundee, and Glasgow. The two regiments were cut from 5 squadrons a piece to only three in 1994. 

Selection for the TA SAS is held over a nine month period, in which candidates are expected to keep in top physical shape. Selection is only held on the weekends and one night a week. Although it is held only on weekends, TA SAS Selection is still extremely hard. Every candidate must first pass a Pre-Selection. This includes a timed run and ruck marches over the hills. The students will go to the Brecons to get a taste of Selection. As Selection continues, SAS students are expected to increase their times over the hills and deal with the additional weight. At the end of the course is the infamous "Long Drag". Long Drag is the longest single ruck march through the Brecons. It is a 60 kilometre march through some of the worlds hardest terrain. Every SAS soldier must pass this. It usually takes about 20 hours to complete although it is said TA SAS candidates get a little slack on that, maybe 30 minutes. At the end every student must also pass escape and evasion and TQ (or Tactical Questioning). At the end of Selection each soldier is sent to RAF Brize Norton for parachute training. One this is done the soldier is allowed to wear the coveted tan beret and winged dagger patch. At the end of Selection, maybe 10% of have passed. On two occasions recruits have been found dead in the Brecons. Regulars from 22 SAS used to see the TA SAS Regiments as a bunch of "weekend warriors", however after General Sir Peter De La Billiere served as Commandant of the SAS he made it a rule that an officer or Senior NCO wishing to gain rank had to serve with the TA SAS. This increased the relationship between the Regiments and laid the ground work for quite a bit of respect among them as well.

Although the wartime role of the TA SAS is long range reconnaissance, TA SAS soldiers have been known to train in CQB as well.23 SAS is also tasked with CSAR. The soldiers are taught about foreign weapons and explosives. They are also given extensive medical and communications training. These last to skills are essential for LRR patrols to master, since they would usually be operating deep behind enemy lines with little or no support. TA soldiers have recently been allowed to go to Jungle Warfare school in Belize, a school which is thought to also except TA SAS soldiers. Training in winter warfare is also taught to TA SAS soldiers; either in Norway or in the highlands of Scotland.  The TA SAS used to send its troops to the International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School in Weingarten, Germany. However it is believed that this school is now closed.

The basic weapon carried by TA SAS soldiers is the British SA-80 and the LSW version of the same weapon. The SA-80 is know for not being very reliable. For this reason 22 SAS does not employ this weapon often. The Sterling sub-machine gun was also issued. However this weapon has been taken out of the inventory. It is thought the MP-5 might be in limited use with the TA SAS Regiments. The Browning 9mm handgun is also used as a back-up weapon and in CQB. The American M-16 w/ or w/out M-203 40 mm grenade launcher is also believed to be in limited use.

R Squadron is a little known part of 22 SAS. It is made up of former members of the SAS or British Army. Selection takes place on the Brecon Beacons and is run just like normal Selection. The recruits attend all the same schools and meet most of the same requirements as the Regulars in 22 SAS. During the Gulf War 15 men from R Squadron were called to action to help boost the ranks of A and D Squadron. They took part in the Long Range Patrols behind Iraqi lines. One R Squadron member was killed in Belize during a training operation in the 1980's (will find exact date). R Squadron is believed to take the best former Army Recruits from the TA SAS although this hasn't been confirmed as of yet. R Squadron has now been renamed "L" Detachment after David Stirlings original SAS unit.


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