MI5 staff to rise from 2,000 to 3,000 and extra money for Special Branch

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In the run-up to the parliamentary debate (Wednesday, 25.2.04) on the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2002 the Home Office announced - via the media - that MI5 (the internal Security Service) is to increase in size from 2,000 to 3,000 officers over the next three to five years. The increase will partly be composed of desk officers and partly of undercover field agents targeted at the Muslim (and other) communities. At the same time the government let it be known that the Special Branch is to get an extra £3 million a year to set up eight regional "intelligence cells" to work alongside MI5 (this follows the recommendations of a thematic report on future organisation of Special Branches last year).

The Special Branch and MI5 both work in plainclothes gathering intelligence and "suspicions", recruiting informers and infiltrating suspect groups. Special Branch officers, drawn from the regular police forces, have the power of arrest, MI5 do not. Together they form Britain's "political police".

See: UK: Special Branch more than doubles in size: Special report Analysis by Tony Bunyan on the Special Branch’s role in conducting surveillance for MI5 and on public order

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