GCHQ is one of the three UK Intelligence Agencies and forms a crucial part of the UK’s National Intelligence and Security machinery.
The National Security Strategy
sets out the challenges of a changing and uncertain world and places cyber attack in the top tier of risks, alongside international terrorism, a major industrial accident or natural disaster, and international military crisis. GCHQ, in concert with Security Service (also known as MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) play a key role across all of these areas and more. Our work drives the UK Government’s response to world events and enables strategic goals overseas.
GCHQ acts within the law
All our operations are conducted within a framework of legislation that defines our roles and activities. As well as Ministerial oversight by the Foreign Secretary, Parliamentary and non-Judicial oversight of GCHQ’s activities is provided by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the independent Commissioners for oversight (the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner), and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).
GCHQ’s headquarters are in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. We have two much smaller sites; one in Cornwall and one in Yorkshire but most of the c5,300 staff work at the impressive Benhall site located at the entrance to the Regency spa town of Cheltenham.
Director GCHQ reports directly to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs. Our primary customers are the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and law enforcement agencies but through our Information Assurance arm (CESG
), we also serve a wide range of other Government Departments and Agencies, helping them to protect their systems and secure their information.