GCHQ to open new intelligence and security facility in Manchester

GCHQ to open new intelligence and security facility in Manchester
A scale model of GCHQ headquarters © Cory Doctorow

UK intelligence agency GCHQ will open a new intelligence and security facility in Manchester in 2019, as part of the UK’s wider counter-terror strategy.

The new intelligence and security facility will work alongside the UK’s other intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6. The Manchester centre will join GCHQ’s main headquarters in Cheltenham, and additional offices in Bude and Scarborough.

GCHQ currently employs a workforce of around 6,000, and the agency’s director, Jeremy Fleming, said that the new centre would create hundreds of “high calibre” new jobs, and have “a vital role in keeping this country safe”. The facility will incorporate a variety of innovative technologies to gather intelligence and combat terrorism.

The announcement follows a number of recent plans to expand the UK’s counter-terror capabilities. This includes the creation of a National Cyber Security Centre, which opened in London last year, and the recent unveiling of a new chemical weapons defence centre to be established at Porton Down.

What has GCHQ said about the new facility?

Fleming said that Manchester was an ideal site for the new intelligence and security facility, in part because of the resilience and strength the city had shown in response to the terrorist bombing attack which took place there last year.

He added that opening a new centre in Manchester will allow GCHQ to take advantage of a whole new pool of talented and technologically skilled workers, which he argued would be “vital to [the] future success” of the agency.

Fleming explained: “Manchester is a city full of innovation and talent. It is also a city known for its tolerance and inclusivity, which last year was tragically attacked by someone who had neither. In that difficult time, we at GCHQ drew strength from the togetherness and resilience shown by all of Manchester’s communities. That’s how you tackle terrorism.”

GCHQ will begin advertising for jobs at the new facility over the next few months, in advance of its launch in 2019.


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