Electronic terror attack 'a possibility'

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Terrorist strikes on the UK could include a "potentially devastating" electronic attack, the home secretary said today.

John Reid made the claim as he outlined how splitting the Home Office will allow the government to provide a faster and "more agile" response to the threat of terrorism.

He said that the new Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) will play a "pivotal role" in boosting Britain's security.

Speaking today at a conference organised by the Royal United Services Institute, the home secretary said: "It is easy to appreciate the devastation of a physical attack and what it can bring but we must not underestimate the potentially devastating consequences of an electronic attack."

Mr Reid added that although he could not guarantee "100 per cent success" in the fight against terrorism, he could guarantee 100 per cent dedication from the country's forces.

"[The OSCT] will provide that faster, brighter and more agile response to the terrorist threat through a new drive, cohesion, and by providing a greater strategic capacity to our fight against terrorism," he said.

Yesterday Mr Reid told MPs that the OSCT would receive £15 million to support its work following the break-up of the Home Office on May 9th, with the new office set to recruit an additional 150 staff in the process.

Defending his decision to split the Home Office, which will also result in the creation of a new Ministry of Justice to oversee the criminal justice system, Mr Reid told the Commons home affairs defence committee that the move was necessary given the terror threat facing Britain.

However, the Conservatives have argued that splitting the Home Office will undermine the work of the government's newly-created, cross-governmental terrorism and security committee, which aims to better coordinate anti-terror efforts.

Commenting following first meeting of the committee yesterday, when prime minister Tony Blair chaired the proceedings, shadow home secretary David Davis warned: "Splitting the Home Office will undoubtedly distract from the exact subject this committee has been set up to deal with - namely terrorism.

"This is not to mention the split will also undermine the fight against crime and the shambles in the immigration system," he added.

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