Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism

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This article is part of the Counter-Terrorism Portal project of Spinwatch.

The Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) is a directorate within the Home Office which leads work on counter-terrorism in the UK. It is one of the ‘seven Agencies and Departments which form the UK Intelligence Community’.[1] In April 2021 it became the Homeland Security Group.

The other six agencies are:

In April 2021 with little fanfare the OSCT became the Homeland Security Group within the Home Office.

As of October 2009, it reported to Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Minister of State Phil Woolas.[2]

According to the Guardian, the OSCT is 'widely regarded in Whitehall as being an intelligence agency'.[3] The Office's head, Charles Farr, is a former senior intelligence officer, as is another un-named senior officer.[3] In 2010 the OSCT website stated (prior to the incoming Cameron government) that one of its official functions was to 'manage the Home Secretary’s statutory relationship with the Security Service'[4]

Preventing Violent Extremism

The OSCT, for the year 2009-10, has a total funding of £8.5 million in relation to preventing violent extremism.[5]

The OSCT in 2009-10 is providing £5.6 million of direct funding to the National Offender Management System in regards to a programme of preventing violent extremism and radicalisation. This programme, however, spans across the entire Contest 2 strategy.[6]

The Youth Justice Board is in receipt of £3.5 of this £5.6 million and is delivering Prevent programmes through Youth Offending Teams.[7]

The OSCT spent £600,000 on the Channel Programme in 2006-07 and has spent £1 million in 2008-09. [8]


Revised Prevent Strategy 2011

The 2011 Prevent strategy notes that the OSCT has responsibility for Prevent, Channel,[9] CONTEST. [10]. OSCT also developed the Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent.[11]. the policy also notes that 'responsibility for coordinating the dialogue at a national level on terrorism with faith institutions and groups has been moved from DCLG to the OSCT'.[12] 'Of the 321 new dedicated Prevent police officers in 2008, 80 were CTIOs (67 of whom were funded by OSCT), distributed across 42 forces.' [13]

The role of CTIOs was to work alongside PEOs and neighbourhood policing teams, to inform and guide their community engagement and to determine how local police and partner resources should be focused to deal with any threats. 11.26 Using information in this way is a central, routine element of effective policing. Communities expect local police to act on the information that becomes available to deal with any risks. But the language used to describe this activity encouraged the view that the police may be engaged in covert (rather than overt) activity around Prevent which in turn undermined trust. To address these concerns, ACPO and OSCT ceased all future Prevent funding of CTIOs from the beginning of the 2011/12 financial year.[14]

Responsibility for integration lay with DCLG.[15]

Counter Extremism Strategy 2015



Circa 2010

Coordinates Home Office Prevent work to stop people becoming terrorists and ensures the government communicates effectively to reduce the risk of terrorism.

Sets the strategic direction and oversees police counter-terrorism capability.

Has overall responsibility for the Protect and Prepare areas and for ensuring science supports the delivery of counter-terrorism.

Delivers policy covered by the Pursue area and OSCT’s international work, as well as interception and surveillance policy and casework. The directorate also oversees the Security Service.

Works to maintain the ability of law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies and the emergency services to use communications data to protect the public.

Leads the safety and security programme for the London 2012 Games across all government departments. It will be the largest peacetime security operation ever mounted in the UK. [17]



Home office data on spending by the OSCT over £25,000 is displayed in tables on the following pages:


  1. Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament How the Committee works. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 11 March 2020.
  2. About us, Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Home Office, accessed 17 October 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Vikram Dodd, Government anti-terrorism strategy 'spies' on innocent,, 16 October 2009.
  4. Home Office. Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism About us, This snapshot taken on 19/04/2010, shows web content selected for preservation by The National Archives. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 1 May 2011.
  5. Home Office Freedom of Information Request 12172 - accessed 17/11/09
  6. Delivering the Prevent Strategy: An Updated Guide for Local Partners HM Government, August 2009, p. 26 - accessed 17/11/09
  7. ibid
  8. House of Commons Hansard, Column 1376W 22 July 2008 - accessed 18/11/09
  9. p. 57
  10. p. 96.
  11. p. 57
  12. p. 82
  13. p. 99
  14. p. 100
  15. p.30.
  17. Office for Security and counter Terrorism Our Structure, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 19 April 2010.