We're rounding up some of the biggest security cleared stories of the past few weeks. In April, the Ministry of Defence confirmed one of the largest Royal Navy deployments in decades, police recruitment numbers in England and Wales continued to rise, and GCHQ emphasised its work in reaching out to neurodiverse candidates.
Royal Navy set for 'largest deployment in a generation'
The Royal Navy will send a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) on its maiden deployment in May, with the flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth set to visit more than 40 countries and undertake around 70 engagements.
In addition to eight of the RAF's newest F-35B Lightning jets, the aircraft carrier will have the largest contingent of helicopters assigned to a single UK Task Group in a decade, including four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will be joined by two Type 45 destroyers, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, the Type 23 frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring, as well as US Navy and Royal Netherlands Navy vessels.
Defence minister Ben Wallace said the CSG "will be flying the flag for global Britain - projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow."
GCHQ highlights value of neurodiverse employment strategy
GCHQ has been highlighting the importance of neurodiversity in its work, with the organisation revealing people on its apprenticeship scheme are four times more likely to have dyslexia than those on other programmes.
The intelligence agency explained these individuals often have strong pattern recognition skills that are highly valuable to its work. Indeed, it noted its most famous employee - WWII codebreaker Alan Turing - also had the condition.
Jo Cavan, director of strategy, policy and engagement at GCHQ, explained: "We’re looking for people who can see something that's out of place in a bigger picture, who have good visual awareness and can spot anomalies ... A lot of dyslexic colleagues have those strengths."
Almost 9,000 new police officers added in recruitment push
Efforts to increase the number of police personnel in the UK have seen almost 9,000 officers recruited since the start of the Police Uplift Programme in September 2019, new figures from the Home Office have revealed.
A total of 8,771 new officers have joined under the scheme, with every one of England and Wales' 43 police forces meeting or exceeding its recruitment target. As a result, the programme is already 44 per cent of the way towards reaching its goal of 20,000 new officers by 2023.
The figures also revealed more women are now employed as police officers than ever before, with females making up 42 per cent (5,037) of new recruits since 2020. The number of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority officers is also now at its highest point ever, with these groups accounting for 10.6 per cent of joiners in the last 12 months.
Armed forces relax recruiting roles to attract cyber specialists
The armed forces have lifted some of their recruitment rules in order to attract more cyber security specialists to the military as digital warfare becomes a top priority for the coming years.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of the UK's Strategic Command, told the Financial Times one way of doing this is to promote 'lateral' entry, which allows skilled candidates to leave other industries and transfer directly into senior military ranks without having to work their way up the hierarchy.
"I'm interested in people who may want to come in and spend a bit of time in defence, gain their credentials, their credibility and then move in and out," he said.
Meanwhile, all existing members of the armed forces will also be offered a cyber aptitude test from the summer to identify those with the right skills for specialised training in areas such as electronic warfare.
£7.6m partnership set to help assess UK's nuclear industry
A new partnership between energy supplier EDF and the University of Bristol is set to develop new tools that can be used to evaluate the condition of the UK's nuclear power industry and help the government move toward its target of net-zero carbon emissions.
In total, £3.4 million will be provided by EDF for the scheme, along with £1.7 million from the University of Bristol and £2.4 million by the government through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Professor David Knowles, principal academic investigator for the partnership and chief executive of the Henry Royce Institute, said: "This research is central to the enhancement of our understanding of material behaviour, which will help us attain the government's target of reducing the cost of new nuclear by 30 per cent by 2030.