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CONTEST was the official codename given to the United Kingdom's counterterrorism strategy from a period of 2003 till 2009. It was revised and re-launched in March 2009 and is now referred to as CONTEST 2. The official objective of CONTEST was to: "reduce the risk from international terrorism, so that people can go about their daily lives freely and with confidence." [1]

The Four P's

In a 2006 Home Office document entitled: Countering International Terrorism: The United Kingdom's Strategy, CONTEST was divided into four main areas, which became known as the four P's - Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare.


The Prevent component of CONTEST is based on "preventing terrorism by tackling the radicalisation of individuals" through:

  • "Tackling disadvantage and supporting reform by addressing structural problems in the UK and overseas that may contribute to radicalisation, such as inequalities and discrimination;
  • Deterring those who facilitate terrorism and those who encourage others to become terrorists by changing the environment in which the extremists and those radicalising others can operate; and
  • Engaging in the battle of ideas by challenging the ideologies that extremists believe can justify the use of violence, primarily by helping Muslims who wish to dispute these ideas to do so". [2]


The Pursue strand of CONTEST was based on "pursuing terrorists and those that sponsor them" and "reducing the terrorist threat to the UK and to UK interests overseas by disrupting terrorists and their operations". [3]. This was done, most notably, through the granting of increased powers to the British security establishment to prevent an attack and through the creation of more anti-terror laws to bring suspected terrorists plotters to account who couldn't be tried under existent laws.

The other aspects of the Pursue component are based on:

  • "Gathering intelligence by improving our ability to identify and understand the terrorist threat;
  • Disrupting terrorist activity by taking action to frustrate terrorist attacks and to bring terrorists to justice through prosecution and other means, including strengthening the legal framework against terrorism, e.g. by introducing legislation to deport those who are judged to be not conducive to the public good; and
  • International co-operation by working with partners and allies overseas to strengthen our intelligence effort and achieve disruption of terrorists outside the UK". [4]


The Protect strand of CONTEST is based on reducing the UK's vulnerability, at home and abroad, in case a terrorist attack cannot be thwarted. This is done by:

  • "Strengthening border security [to ensure] that terrorists and those who inspire them can be prevented from travelling here and we can get better intelligence about suspects who travel, including improving our identity management, for example by use of biometrics";
  • Protecting key utilities by working with private sector organisations;
  • Better equipping sensitive transport networks and other infrastructural entities by investing more heavily in technologically advanced security; and
  • Increasing security and safety in crowded places. [5]


The Prepare component of CONTEST is premised on the idea of limiting the effects of an attack in case it cannot be prevented and ensuring that the UK is prepared for the consequences of a terrorist attack. [6] It aims to do this by:

  • Identifying the potential risks the UK faces from terrorism and assessing their impact;
  • Building the necessary capabilities to respond to any attacks; and
  • Continually evaluating and testing our preparedness – e.g. by frequently exercising to improve our response to incidents and learning lessons from incidents that do take place.