Labour slams PM for failure to create national infrastructure police force

The Labour Party has accused Theresa May of reneging on a general election promise to create a police force to protect the nation’s key infrastructure.

The Conservatives’ 2017 manifesto pledged to create a national infrastructure police force, bringing together the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence Police and the British Transport Police “to improve the protection of critical infrastructure such as nuclear sites, railways and the strategic road network.”

However, one year on from the prime minister calling the snap general election no such force has emerged. In a document marking 12 months since Theresa May called the election, Labour claims that the pledge has effectively been put on the back burner with BEIS, DfT and the MoD still only looking at the “feasibility” of the proposal.

The criticisms come as the British National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the FBI, and the US Department of Homeland Security have issued fresh warnings that the Russian government is attacking critical national infrastructure in the UK and the US. 

In a joint statement, the security agencies said the targets of the campaign are government and private-sector organisations, as well as critical infrastructure businesses, along with the internet service providers supporting them.

Ciaran Martin, the head of NCSC, described Russia as the UK’s "most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace" and “many of the techniques used by Russia exploit basic weaknesses in network systems".

Major UK infrastructure providers claim that they have robust measures in place to defend facilities and systems against cyber-attacks, though understandably none would give any details of those measures, and are in regular dialogue with the NCSC .

According to a new report by the NCSC, hostile countries are attacking the UK’s national infrastructure supply chain in an ongoing cyber campaign. “These tactics can be used to identify vulnerable devices, obtain log in credentials, masquerade as privileged users, modify device firmware, copy or redirect victim traffic throughout Russian cyber-actor-controlled infrastructure and several other malicious activities,” said an NCSC spokesperson.

The Home Office’s updated Single Departmental Plan only commits to work with other departments to investigate the feasibility of the promised new infrastructure police force, stating it will “work with BEIS, DfT and MOD on the feasibility, benefits and risks of creating a national infrastructure police force, bringing together the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence and the British Transport Police.”

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