The Prime Minister has announced that cybersecurity agency the National Cyber Force (NCF) is to have its permanent headquarters based in the North of England.
The announcement follows a number of other commitments by government to relocate more government personnel away from London to the regions, including announcements in the recent budget to establish a branch of the Treasury in Darlington, and set up a UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is also expected to have half of its workforce based in Manchester in the next five years, following the BBC’s move to the city.
The NCF, drawing on both intelligence and defence expertise, was created last year to conduct targeted offensive cyber operations against terrorists, hostile states and criminal gangs.
The choice of basing the agency in the North aims to capitalise on the region’s existing status as a centre for both defence and technology. GCHQ set up a Manchester office last year with a focus on tackling organised crime, and the city is a leading global centre for the tech sector’: Manchester is Europe’s fastest growing major tech cluster, with more than 15% of Manchester’s population employed by the digital, creative and technology sector.
No town or city has officially been announced to host the cybersecurity agency as yet; however, the NCF will form part of a ‘cyber corridor’ across the region.
The Prime Minister explained the importance of the sector for the UK; in a statement, Boris Johnson said:
Cyber power is revolutionising the way we live our lives and fight our wars, just as air power did 100 years ago. We need to build up our cyber capability so we can grasp the opportunities it presents while ensuring those who seek to use its powers to attack us and our way of life are thwarted at every turn.
“Our new, full-spectrum approach to cyber will transform our ability to protect our people, promote our interests around the world and make the lives of British people better every day.”