Peter Hoskin

The coalition outlines its national security concerns

The coalition outlines its national security concerns
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What a curious creature this National Security Strategy is. For some reason, I expected something more than a 39-page document in the same mushy pea colour scheme as the coalition agreement. But that is what we've got – and it doesn't really tell us much.

The centrepiece of the document comes on page 27 (reproduced below), with a neat, three-tier guide to the security risks facing this country. At the highest priority level are atrocities such as "chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack by terrorists," and "hostile attacks upon UK cyberspace". Further down, there are mentions for "organised crime" and "disruption to oil or gas supplies," among others. But, before we get there, there is – as Nicholas Watt notes – a good deal of waffle. "Most national security threats arise from actions by others: states or non-state actors, who are hostile to our interests," the report tells us. Well, who would have thought it?

This isn't to dismiss this document completely. The emphasis that it places on, say, "lone [Islamist] terrorists," or on the "increased activities of residual terrorist groups" in Northern Ireland, is still morbidly eyecatching. And some solid objectives come out of it, such as a investigation into how the courts can "scrutinise modern day national security actions effectively without compromising our security in the process." But I suspect the real action will come when David Cameron announces the outcome of the defence review tomorrow.