The UK government wants to recruit everybody to its counter-terrorism effort. That is if its newly announced Integrated Review is anything to go by.
Page 90 of the new review details plans to involve all levels of civil society, including business and individuals, in its new “resilience” plans. This will be for issues like flooding but also for things like “terrorism”.
A ‘whole of society’ approach
The relevant passage contains a pledge:
To establish a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to resilience, so that individuals, businesses and organisations all play a part in building resilience across the UK. We will seek to develop an integrated approach, bringing together all levels of government, CNI [critical national infrastructure] criticial operators, the wider private sector, civil society and the public.
The review expands on this in rather vague terms:
As part of this, we will: improve government communications to the public on preparedness; consider strengthening the role and responsibilities of local resilience forums (LRFs) in England; and consider the scope and responsibilities of CNI owners and operators to ensure a consistent resilience standard across CNI sectors. This is in addition to any necessary sector-specific legislation, such as the Telecommunications (Security) Bill. The new cyber strategy will contribute to this overall approach, increasing the UK’s resilience to cyber risks. This will include raising the level of cyber security across CNI sectors and increasing the adoption of the NCSC’s Cyber Assessment Framework.
The implications are not entirely clear and no detailed vision of what a ‘whole-of -society’ approach may look like has been laid out at this stage. The concept is mentioned in an international context on page 24 of the report, in a section on “continuities and changes” in defence policy, which is also laden with jargon.
Domestic and international resilience: we will improve our ability – and that of our allies and partners – to anticipate, prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from risks to our security and prosperity. It will be essential to take a whole-of-society approach to resilience across the Union, in addition to cooperating with international partners to address challenges such as climate change and global health risks. Learning from COVID-19, we will improve our ability to anticipate and respond to crises by establishing a cross-government Situation Centre in the Cabinet Office and developing a national capability in digital twinning.
“Digital twinning” aside, it’s very hard to know what a whole-of-society approach will mean, but it seems to hinge on some fairly authoritarian assumptions about recruiting civil society, and even individual citizens, to the government’s cause.
Featured image via Wikimedia
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