John Tesh

former Deputy Director, Capabilities at Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS), Cabinet Office

Former Deputy Director, Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS)
Policy Fellow Alumnus, Centre for Science and Policy

John is a senior consultant to OECD, Visiting Senior Fellow at King’s College London Department of War Studies, and freelance adviser to others, specialising in national risk assessment and national resilience. From 2006 to 2012 he led UK government work in the Cabinet Office to assess the risks of emergencies UK-wide to support resilience strategy and planning, and was programme director for the national resilience capabilities programme.

The CCS, part of the National Security Secretariat, supports the PM and Cabinet, and leads the wider government effort, on civil emergency planning and response. As head of the Capabilities team from 2006 to 2012, John Tesh had particular responsibility for the National Risk Assessment and National Risk Register (assessing all risks to national safety and security arising from terrorism, major industrial accidents and natural hazards) and for reviewing the National Security Risk Assessment (a global assessment of risks to national security first published in the 2010 National Security Strategy). He led the cross-government Resilience Capabilities Programme to improve the nation's resilience to emergencies of these kinds. As part of the CCS crisis response team, he was involved in the government responses to a number of emergencies including the 2007 flooding emergencies and outbreaks of animal disease in England, and the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

John spent most of his earlier career in the Ministry of Defence, specialising in international security policy and strategy, and working with the Armed Forces on operational policy, financial planning and organisational reform. He served in the UK Delegation to NATO in the early 1990s on nuclear weapons policy and on the Partnership for Peace, in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003, and as head of the new security issues programme at Chatham House, the Royal Institute for International Affairs, in 2004.

Following the end of his appointment in the Cabinet Office, John moved into a consulting role. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to UK civil resilience and the development of the National Risk Assessment in the New Year's Honours List 2013.

  • In news articles

    CSaP Policy Fellow discusses why Britain needs a National Risk Register

    In this discussion piece, John Tesh (Deputy Director, Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat, and CSaP Policy Fellow) explains why Britain needs a National Risk Register.