The UK government’s new National Cyber Force (NCF) will be located in Samlesbury in the North-West, bringing highly skilled jobs to Lancashire, the Defence Secretary has confirmed.

The National Cyber Force was announced by the Prime Minister as part of the Integrated Review in November 2020. The joint MoD and GCHQ partnership is helping keep the country safe as the new home of offensive cyber operations.

The permanent site of the NCF will be established in Samlesbury, cementing the North-West region’s position as the cyber centre of the UK. GCHQ already have an office in Manchester and the city is Europe’s fastest growing major tech cluster, with more than 15% of Manchester’s population employed by the digital, creative and technology sector.

The NCF draws together personnel from intelligence, cyber and security agency GCHQ, the MoD, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), under one unified command for the first time.

Offensive cyber operations are those which can disrupt hostile state activities, terrorists and criminals threatening the UK’s national security – from countering terror plots to conducting military operations.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

The National Cyber Force located in Samlesbury will embrace exciting new offensive cyber technologies and provide thousands of highly skilled jobs and expertise to the North West.

I am hugely proud and enthusiastic to see this happen, not only will it provide a catalyst for investment, but also see our levelling up agenda bring economic stimulus and tangible benefits to this region.

Working in partnership with law enforcement and international partners, the NCF operates in a legal, ethical and proportionate way to help defend the nation and counter the full range of national security threats.

Offensive cyber capabilities offer the UK a range of flexible, scalable measures that will help protect the UK and our partners around the globe.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:

The National Cyber Force will help confront aggressive behaviour from malign actors, and demonstrate that Britain is investing in next-generation defence capability to protect our people and help our friends counter cyber threats. It sends a powerful message to our allies and adversaries alike.

The UK has been a world-leader on offensive cyber operations, with GCHQ pioneering the use and development of these cyber techniques. In 2016 the then Defence Secretary confirmed the UK was conducting cyber operations against Daesh and in 2018, Director GCHQ revealed how it had degraded ISIS propaganda networks through cyber operations.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said:

The National Cyber Force is at the cutting edge of our country’s defence.

Basing the campus at Samlesbury in Lancashire will bring high skilled and well paid jobs to the area, building on our drive to move key public sector roles outside of London.

It underlines this government’s important levelling up agenda and our commitment to spread opportunity across the country.

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