mission? UK "homeland security" firms were in India
three weeks before David Cameron's February trade mission
In late January, Conservative
MP and Minister for Security James Brokenshire led a delegation
of nearly 25 "homeland security" firms to India on
a trip which, in sharp contrast to the trade mission to India
undertaken by David Cameron in February, received no coverage
in the press whatsoever.
From 20 to 25 January
multinational giants such as Agusta Westland, BAE Systems, G4S
and Thales were taken to a number of Indian cities: Delhi, "for
the government perspective"; Hyderabad, "the centre
of the vast Naxal terrorism-troubled region and the home of a
growing high tech industry base" where there was a "round
table discussion with local security forces"; and Mumbai,
"the focus of safer cities and coastal security initiatives"
where attendees were treated to "a conference and round
table discussion with local government security agencies and
A number of lesser-known
firms were present alongside the major corporations. Evidence
Talks attended, which was founded in 1993 and describes itself
as "one of the most highly regarded digital forensic consultancies
in the UK." The company supplies tools for the extraction
and analysis of data from digital devices and boasts that its
SPEKTOR tool is "used worldwide by police, military, government
and commercial customers
[and] enables users with minimal
skills to safely, quickly and forensicly [sic] review the contents
of computers, removable media and even cell phones." 
Cunning Running also went
on UKTI's trip, and claims to provide "threat visualisation
for the real world." The firm say that they "develop
high quality software solutions for the defence and homeland
security markets," supplying "direct to governments,
law enforcement agencies, and militaries in the UK, USA, Europe
and Australia." 
"The security sector
in India is vast and desperate to modernise," said UKTI's
flyer for the mission. "India has approximately 1.2 million
police and 1.3 million paramilitary forces personnel. With this,
the Central Reserve Police Force, at 350,000, is the largest
paramilitary force in the world" - a vast number of personnel
who could be equipped with the latest "homeland security"
gadgets and expertise.
The flyer for the mission
seems to highlight the fact that backing the security industry
as it moves into developing economies is seen as a national endeavour.
"The [Indian] market is the subject of stiff competition
from international competitors such as the US, Israel and France,"
UKTI said, "but is simply too big to ignore."
UKTI highlighted that
"the on-the-ground costs of this mission (receptions, ground
transport, conference facilities, promotional literature) are
being wholly subsidised on behalf of UK companies by UKTI
and its partners/sponsors" (emphasis in original).
Those partners and sponsors included the Indian Home Ministry
and the Confederation of Indian Industries.
were "able to avail a government-negotiated rate at the
hotels being used throughout the programme."
The "only charge
to companies" was for the UKTI Overseas Market Introduction
Service (OMIS) - a "flexible business tool, letting you
use the services of our trade teams, located in our embassies,
high commissions and consulates across the world, to benefit
your business." 
The government has recently
made additional funding available in order to encourage wider
use of OMIS by UK firms, with a 50% discount (up to a maximum
of £750) available to "all eligible companies commissioning
an order linked to a UKTI, Scottish Development International
(SDI), Welsh Government (WG) or Invest Northern Ireland (INI)
supported outward mission or Market Visit Support (MVS)."
While UKTI has clawed
back some money from the firms who went on the trade mission
to India, the department - described by Campaign Against Arms
Trade (CAAT) as "a taxpayer-funded arms sales unit"
 - initially spent over £35,000 subsidising companies.
In its response to a freedom of information (FOI) request from
Statewatch, UKTI said that "we have also generated
income of £13,485 with another £1,170 expected. Therefore
the net cost minus the expenses still to come is £20,997.98."
This amount pales in comparison
to the total amount of subsidies it is estimated are awarded
to defence and security firms by the UK government every year,
but it also highlights the breadth of support given to a highly
Research by the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute estimated that, between
2007 and 2010, total government subsidies for UK arms exports
(including both defence and security firms) totalled at its highest
£751.2 million, and at its lowest £668.3 million.
A spokesperson for CAAT
criticised the mission to India, saying that: "Unfortunately
the UK government continues to prioritise promoting corporate
interests over promoting human rights and real security - and
expects the UK public to subsidise this."
David Cameron's February
trade mission to India received heavy press coverage and saw
the Prime Minister accompanied by a number of CEOs from defence
and security firms, including Dick Oliver, the chairman of BAE
Systems; Robin Southwell, the CEO of EADS UK; Steve Wadley, the
UK managing director of the missile firm MBDA; and Victor Chavez,
the chief executive of Thales UK. 
Representatives of some
of those same firms were present on UKTI's January mission, demonstrating
the continued diversification of arms firms into the more nebulous
"security" industry. CAAT's spokesperson noted that
they are "increasingly concerned about what's happening
under the euphemistic banner of 'security' and the way this industry
is promoted by the UK government alongside 'defence'.
"The 'security' of
concern to most people is that of having their basic needs met
- something that would be far more achievable if some of the
billions spent on the military were redirected."
Today, on 15 April, events
around the world will mark the Global Day of Action on Military
Spending, which argues that it is "imperative that we create
a global movement" to ensure that the billions of pounds
spent around the world on military and security forces is spent
instead on "human needs". 
A full list of companies
attending the trade mission is available in UKTI's response to
a Statewatch FOI request, bar one whose name was removed
after the company "expressed their concern that their staff
could be endangered if their name is released publically as an
attendee at the event." An appeal against this decision
is being prepared.
 UKTI DSO,
homeland security trade mission to India
 Evidence Talks, Company
 UKTI, OMIS
- Overseas Market Introduction Service, 25 January 2012
 UKTI, Response
to FOI request, 22 March 2013
 Campaign Against Arms Trade, UKTI:
Armed & Dangerous, 8 July 2011
 Susan T. Jackson, SIPRI
assessment of UK arms export subsidies, 25 May 2011
 Kaye Stearman, Cameron's
Indian odyssey - brickbats and cricket bats, fighter jets and
on-message execs, CAATblog, 22 February 2013
Day of Action on Military Spending