By Richard Johnstone

25 Dec 2017

With the end of 2017 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2018 – and tell us what they cannot do Christmas without

What are you most proud of achieving in 2017?

I was exceptionally proud of the way that the department reacted after the bombing at the Manchester Arena. Ministry of Defence Police redeployed immediately in support of their police colleagues, specialist troops such as bomb disposal experts were immediately dispatched to Manchester and 977 troops took up protective security guarding roles across the country to release armed police to do critical tasks. It was a real “whole force” effort and the team in head office who organised it worked absolutely around the clock to provide the reassurance that the country required in response to a horrific attack.

What was your most difficult decision in 2017?

This year has been relatively benign in terms of tough decisions. Clearly with the National Security Capability Review in train and some well trailed budget pressures, we will have some tougher calls to make in the New Year.

What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?

We live in an uncertain world, so I am rather wary of stating what the top priorities will be too definitively. They will certainly include the initiation of the Dreadnought programme now that we have set up the Submarine Delivery Agency. A project costing £31bn over the course of its life is one worth getting right at the start! We also have to make sure that the threat from Daesh is eradicated in the Middle East and work with our partners in Home Office and the security agencies as it evolves, as it sadly will, online and onto the streets of the UK.

For you, no Christmas holiday is complete without...

Calling, or even better being with, my Indian relatives. Oh, and sherry.

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