NEWS

United Kingdom to Beef up Security Once Again

By Matthew Harwood

Speaking before the House of Commons today, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the British government will step up security across the nation's travel infrastructure, along with broader security upgrades as part of the government's new national security strategy, which will be published in the next few weeks.

Via BBC.com:

The bulk of the statement covered security at public places such as transport hubs, which had been the subject of a review by ex-Admiral and current security minister Lord West.

Mr Brown said improved security would be installed at the country's 250 busiest railway stations, as well as airports, ports and more than 100 other sensitive locations.... Mr Brown said guidance would be sent to thousands of cinemas, theatres, restaurants, hotels, sporting venues and commercial centres, as well as all hospitals, schools and places of worship to advise them on how to keep visitors safe against terrorism.

Ministers would work with architects and planners to encourage them to "design-in" better security measures in new buildings, such as blast resistant material, safe areas and traffic control measures.

Companies responsible for crowded places would be given updated advice on how they could improve resilience against attack, he said.  About 160 counter-terrorism advisers will train civilian staff to watch out for suspect activity, ensure premises have adequate emergency facilities and make best use of their CCTV footage.

While travelers at certain rail stations will have to submit to additional screening of baggage and their person, travelers will once again be allowed to carry two handbags onto planes at certain airports beginning next year.

Another part of Brown's new plan is to create a forum of head teachers—or the most senior teacher in a U.K. school—to find ways to protect students from extremist propaganda.

Border security will tighten too, as the nation's new border agency will have expanded powers of detention for suspected terrorists, visa requirements will harden, and foreign nationals will have to carry a biometric ID card.

The new security strategy will increase the security budget by an extra £1 billion by 2011, Brown told members of Parliament — a little over $2 billion American, according to The New York Times. Brown also said the security service will expand from its current 3,100 employees to beyond 4,000, double what is was in 2001.

To read Brown's full statement before the House of Commons, BBC.com has the full transcript here.

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