Anne Keast-Butler Director GCHQ
“Our mission is simple: we help to keep the country safe, in the real world and online. We focus on communications: how to access, analyse and – occasionally – disrupt the communications of the UK’s adversaries; and on the nation’s cyber security. We work with the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), MI5, policing, Defence and a myriad of partners overseas, and in the private sector and academia.
The people at GCHQ come from diverse backgrounds and bring their unique skills, but all share a passion to make a difference for their country. This is as true today as it was when GCHQ was founded over a century ago – it’s been at the heart of Britain’s intelligence and security community ever since.
What’s changed today is that technology is now central to our way of life. It influences everything from how we relate to one another, to how states compete in cyberspace. As technology continues to evolve, we’re pioneering a new kind of security for our increasingly complex and interconnected world. GCHQ’s role is more vital than ever”.
Our brilliant people use cutting-edge technology, technical ingenuity and wide-ranging partnerships to identify, analyse and disrupt threats to the UK. Our priorities are set by the UK’s National Security Strategy and the decisions of the National Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, as well as the Joint Intelligence Committee. We always strive to stay one step ahead of those who are looking to cause our nation and its people harm. Our focus changes as the global threats evolve. We are part of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic; protecting the NHS, supporting the Government’s development of data science and improving our nation’s economic resilience. We are also tackling a shifting serious crime threat that is looking to exploit the crisis. Our role in keeping the UK digital homeland safe and prosperous is more crucial than ever.
A large proportion of our workforce are based at our headquarters in Cheltenham. A well-known Gloucestershire landmark, our HQ is known affectionately as the Doughnut and it’s been the home of our mission since we moved here in 2003.
The largest construction site in Europe at the time, our HQ was officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 and today it houses our 24/7 operations centre, the GCHQ archive which contains around 16 million historical artefacts, cafes a restaurant and a gym.
GCHQ first came to Cheltenham in the 1950s. The site in Oakley opened in 1952, with operations ceasing almost 60 years later, following the move into the new headquarters in Benhall.
Together with purpose We’re the Government Communications Headquarters – otherwise known as GCHQ. Tasked by UK government, we’re a world-leading intelligence, cyber and security agency. Our mission is to keep the UK and its citizens safe. We’re really proud of our purpose – and our people. Join us to be a part of it all.
Anne Keast-Butler Biography
Anne Keast-Butler is the Director of the Government Communications Headquarters, the UK’s intelligence, cyber and security agency. Anne was appointed in April 2023 and is the 17th person, and the first ever women to hold the role.
As Deputy Director General, Anne was the DG responsible for MI5’s operational, investigative and protective security work. This has included MI5’s– and allies’ – preparation for and response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Immediately prior to this role, Anne was Director General Strategy, with responsibility for all the enabling functions that support MI5’s operational activities.
Prior to this, Anne spent two years on secondment to GCHQ as Head of Counter Terrorism and Serious Organised Crime, and has also spent part of the last decade on secondment in Whitehall. Whilst there, she helped to launch the National Cyber Security Programme. During her thirty years in the national security field, Anne has held a number of key operational roles in MI5.