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Civil Defence today

Secret intelligence – not just MI5

Although MI5 is the key intelligence agency for UK based threats, MI6 and GCHQ are the other 2 main intelligence organisations. MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service) investigates and gathers intelligence abroad concerning UK national security, whilst GCHQ gathers intelligence by electronic eavesdropping.

All 3 of the intelligence agencies receive their budget through the Single Intelligence Account which is in the region of £2bn per year. However this has recently been reduced due to the budget cuts and as such has forced a number of changes to how the services work.

Shared corporate services

At present, each of the services is responsible for each area of their operation. However part of the move to save money is by amalgamating the following (according to a GCHQ job description) "Finance, Procurement, HR, Learning and development, Recruitment and Personnel Security Vetting". It makes logical sense that someone who needs to be highly ~ securely vetted for MI5 would face the same procedures as GCHQ, however it will obviously bring changes to the service.

Reduced sites

As a result of the above, its likely that recruitment locations will either close or be amalgamated to save money. MI6's recruitment location is currently widely known but whether this property will continue to function as its centre is unknown.

GCHQ has actually started to close sites. It is widely known that they have an office in Palmer Street, London (although not officially published) however this site will be officially closed along with a smaller sister site to the main Doughnut at Cheltenham. According to Government Response to the Intelligence and Security Committee’s Annual Report 2010–2011 GCHQ will accrue savings from "the disposal of GCHQ's London office and Oakley site".

In addition to closing 2 sites, GCHQ is moving in with MI5 and MI6, according to the same report; "In conjunction with the two other Agencies, GCHQ is currently developing a strategy to share SIA accommodation, primarily in London, to reduce costs and create greater flexibility."

Secret for a reason

The world of secret intelligence is fascinating and we are pulled into an intriguing world through Spooks or James Bond. However the reality is that the work of the intelligence services is (officially) done for the interests of you and I.

It is not the intention of this website to 'reveal' secret sites which would put our intelligence services at risk or distract them from the important work they do.

Many of these folks work long hours with little official recognition as they can't discuss what they do and yet it saves many lives and our national interest.

The growth of the internet

With the rise of the internet, many locations and topics which were once secret are now publicly available and in very good quality. When knowledge was gleaned from books, these books would have been reviewed before publishing and any sensitive material removed. This is no longer the case. You can publish something on the net straight away, with no limits (within reason).

This has even impacted the intelligence services. Take for example this article.

The sub heading of this article reads "The rise of the web and Google means Britain's spies have to work harder to produce genuinely secret intelligence. Thanks to Google Maps and Streeview anyone can today see photographic detail of far away countries which hitherto would have been available only through secret and highly sophisticated national satellites. Intelligence producers have had to become very sensitive to this phenomenon and very careful not to put effort into producing intelligence that purports to be secret which is in fact not secret at all."

The issue is that once a formerly 'secret base' is known about, in part it can be viewed in high quality aerial or roadside photography. Many of the bases have had street view coverage removed from particularly sensitive sites. Take for example Fort Monckton on the south coast, just outside of Gosport.

This base is the widely known location of the MI6 intelligence officers training centre (i.e. your supposed 'bonds' of this world). The nearby road has street view coverage upto a point from which a small section of the street has been removed thus hiding from view the entrance to the fort. I have only discussed this base as it is widely known about but is clearly a huge site and may well be used for purposes other than just MI6

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