Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms

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Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR) is a UK government coordination facility which is activated in cases of national or regional emergency or crisis, or during events abroad with major implications for the UK. It is often referred to as COBRA (or Cobra; see initialism), in apparent confusion with the relatively benign conference room A of the Cabinet Office, but this usage is established even within the government. The term COBR is used both for the actual facility, and for the committees which meet there.

COBR is situated in an undisclosed part of Whitehall, reportedly "a suite of offices within the Cabinet Office building".<ref></ref> Physically it is a secure suite of rooms containing a bank of telephone lines, fax machines, computer terminals, video conference facilities, and other state of the art communication equipment. Its purpose is to enable the Prime Minister, senior Ministers and key government officials to obtain vital information about an incident and to secure lines of communication to the police and other emergency services, army, hospitals, and all relevant branches of government. The chairmanship of COBR meetings depends on the nature of the incident or crisis.

COBR has been opened for crises such as the Kosovo War of 1999, the fuel protests of September 2000, and the 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis.

After the 11 September 2001 attacks the Prime Minister Tony Blair set up a War Cabinet which is a much more traditional institution for dealing with possible major attacks upon the United Kingdom itself in "wartime". However, COBR was opened under its jurisdiction.

COBR was opened for the 7 July 2005 London bombings, to coordinate the emergency response, with the Prime Minister flying directly from the G8 summit to chair a COBR meeting. It was also opened for the 21 July 2005 London bombings.

COBR also met on 6 April 2006 in relation to the finding of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Fife.

COBR met on several times on the night of 9/10 August 2006 (3 confirmed) due to the foiling of a large plot to bring down several aircraft by the use of explosives.<ref></ref>

COBR met several times following the radioactive poisoning and death of Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-KGB agent who died on 23 November 2006.


[edit] COBR in fiction

COBR appears (as "COBRA") in Anthony Horowitz's young adult book series Alex Rider, in the fifth book Scorpia. It has also been mentioned numerous times in the BBC TV series Spooks. A mock COBRA was used during the fourth episode of The Amazing Mrs Pritchard after a plane crashed in Walthamstow.

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Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms

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