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The Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR) are a group of meeting rooms in the Cabinet Office at 70 Whitehall in London, often used for different committees which co-ordinate the actions of bodies within the Government of the United Kingdom in response to instances of national or regional crisis, or during events abroad with major implications for the UK. It is often mistakenly referred to as COBRA by journalists and other commentators who confuse the facility with the old Treasury Board Room - "Conference Room A" - located in Kent's Treasury.

Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR)
Cabinet Office Briefing Room.jpg
Released in 2010 under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this is the only publicly available photo of the classified COBR facility.
LocationCabinet Office, 70 Whitehall, London, England
Country United Kingdom
PurposeCrisis management centre

The composition of a Ministerial-level meeting in COBR depends on the nature of the incident but it is usually chaired by the Prime Minister or another senior minister, with other key ministers as appropriate, city mayors and representatives of relevant external organisations such as the National Police Chiefs' Council and the Local Government Association.[1]

The first COBR meeting took place in the 1970s to oversee the government's response to the 1972 miners' strike.[2][3] Other events that have led to meetings being convened include the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege, the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, the 11 September 2001 attacks, the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the refugee crisis in Calais,[4] the 2015 Paris attacks, and the Manchester Arena bombing.[5]

In 2009, former senior police officer Andy Hayman, who sat on the committee after the 7 July 2005 London bombings and at other intervals from 2005 to 2007, was highly critical of its workings in his book The Terrorist Hunters.[6]

A single photo of one of the rooms in COBR was released in 2010 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gardiner, Joey (21 October 2002). "What is Cobra". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  2. ^ "File 9: Central Government in War in the 1980s".
  3. ^ Winterton, Jonathan; Winterton, Ruth. Coal, Crisis, and Conflict: The 1984–85 Miners' Strike in Yorkshire. Manchester University Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780719025488.
  4. ^ "Britain calls emergency meeting on Calais migrants". Deutsche Welle. Berlin. AFP. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Manchester Arena: 19 dead after explosion at Ariana Grande concert – latest updates". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  6. ^ O'Neil, Sean (22 June 2009). "Cobra emergency committee 'slows everything down'". The Times. London. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  7. ^ "COBR – a Freedom of Information request to Cabinet Office". WhatDoTheyKnow.