British Intelligence Agencies

“Secret intelligence gives the Government a vital edge in tackling some of the most difficult problems we face… intelligence forewarns us of threats to our national security; helps the Government promote international stability; provides support and protection to our forces; contributes to our economic health; and strengthens our efforts against terrorism and serious crime.”

Prime Minister Tony Blair

Secret_Intelligence_Service_logo

The UK intelligence machinery includes the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service (MI5: Military Intelligence, Section 5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6),  as well as  the Defence Intelligence (DI). Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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GCHQ

Location: “The Doughnut”, in the suburbs of Cheltenham

GCHQ-aerial

Mission:

to provide government departments and the military with signals intelligence (SIGINT), which it obtains by monitoring all manner of electronic communication and information systems, including the internet.

To keep government communication safe

to keep the national infrastructure (water, power, communications and so on) safe from interference and disruption.

Workforce: 6000

Minister Responsible:

Foreign Secretary (but it is not part of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

Popular Culture:

Historical drama ‘The Imitation Game’ featured Benedict Cumberbatch portraying Alan Turing’s efforts to break the Enigma code as part of the Government Code and Cypher School, the forerunner of GCHQ

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MI5

Location: Thames House, London, on the River Thames

Thames_house

Mission:

The protection of national security and, in particular, its protection against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage, from the activities of agents of foreign powers and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means and to safeguard the economic well-being of the United Kingdom.

Workforce: about 3,800

Minister Responsible: Home Secretary

Popular Culture: Spooks

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MI6

Location: Vauxhall Cross, London

MI6

Mission:

to provide the government with a global covert capability to promote and defend the UK’s national security and economic well-being. The types of things which interest the SIS are terrorism, the illegal drugs trade, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and regional instability.

Workforce: > 3200

Minister Responsible: Foreign Secretary

Popular Culture: James Bond

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Others…

The National Crime Agency, established in 2013, gathers and analyses intelligence on serious and organised crime. It was preceded by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (2006–2013), National Criminal Intelligence Service (1992–2006), and the National Drugs Intelligence Unit (1970s–1992).

Three other domestic law enforcement intelligence units exist under the authority of the Home Office.

The National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit dates back to 2004 and has been hosted by the Metropolitan Police Service since 2011.

The National Ballistics Intelligence Service was created in 2008.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau was established in 2010 by the City of London Police.

Joint Intelligence Organization

The Joint Intelligence Organization is a British intelligence agency responsible for intelligence assessment and development of the UK intelligence community’s analytical capability. It is headed by Charles Farr, a Permanent Secretary-level civil servant.

The organisation supports the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee (tasked with directing the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Security Service (MI5) and GCHQ) and National Security Council by providing intelligence assessments to Ministers and senior officials.

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REFERENCES

GCHQ — Official website

MI5 — Official website

MI6 — Official website

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British Intelligence Agencies

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