Police call on public to help tackle terrorism
With the terror threat becoming increasingly complex and varied, police are calling on communities to act on their instincts to help prevent atrocities taking place in the UK and overseas.
The appeal comes as new figures reveal information from the public has assisted counter terrorism police in a third of their most ‘high-risk’ investigations, helping keep communities safe.
The UK’s most senior counter terrorism officer is launching a new Action Counters Terrorism, or ACT, campaign today (Monday 6 March) which urges the public to report suspicious activity and Leicestershire Police is supporting the campaign alongside regional and national forces.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “It is very encouraging that in a third of cases involving our most serious terrorist suspects we have benefited from information from the public. The number or calls and online reports we receive is also increasing. This is a testament to the trust people hold in policing - but now we are appealing for even more.
“Counter terrorism policing and the security and intelligence services are working tirelessly to keep the public safe and together we have stopped 12 attacks since the summer of 2013. However, advances in technology make it more complex and challenging for us to spot would-be terrorists because it's easier for them to be in contact with others and be radicalised in a relatively short space of time using encrypted communications.
“The threat is becoming more varied and the move towards low-tech attacks on crowded places, like those we have seen in major European cities and beyond, makes it even more important everyone remains vigilant and acts, by calling us confidentially, if they are concerned about suspicious activity.”
Last year a record number of people contacted the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline, with the service receiving more than 22,000 calls. Officers hope this number will continue to increase if more can be done to encourage people to call or report online.
Superintendent Mark Pollock, from East Midlands Special Operations Unit, said: “The current UK threat level from terrorism is graded ‘severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely. But we have a very powerful defence: you.
“Police, together with information received from the public, have foiled 12 potential terrorist attacks across the country since the summer of 2013, saving countless lives. Last year there was a record number of calls to the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline. We want to increase this number.
“Communities defeat terrorism, but when attacks have occurred, people have admitted they suspected something was wrong, but didn’t report it as they worried about wasting police time, or getting someone into trouble. We want to reassure you that no call or click will be ignored. And know this: your anonymity will be protected, your information will be secure, and we will only take action after appropriate checks have been carried out.”
“If you see something unusual or suspicious, trust your gut — ACT. If you think someone is vulnerable to being radicalised, ACT. Your information could save lives.”
More information on what to look out for and how to contact police can be found at gov.uk/ACT or call by calling police confidentially on 0800 789321.