Fight against terrorism ‘impossible’ without public acting on hunches
The region’s counter terrorism chief has urged people to act on any suspicions, as it was revealed more than a fifth of reports provide useful intelligence.
Detective Superintendent Glen Channer, of the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), said everyone had a role to play in helping prevent terrorist attacks.
Of almost 31,000 public reports to counter terrorism police last year, more than 6,600 provided intelligence used to inform live investigations, or help build a picture of an individual or group.
The latest phase of the ‘ACT (Action Counters Terrorism)’ campaign launched this week, as the new head of counter terrorism policing praised the public’s willingness to ‘ACT’ in response to last year’s rise in terrorist activity.
Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations (ACSO) for the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu said record numbers contacted the police through online referral forms and a confidential hotline.
The campaign features a short film based on real-life foiled plots, showing examples of terrorist-related suspicious behaviour and attack planning methodology.
Mr Basu said recent figures demonstrated the importance of the public in fighting terrorism.
“Since the beginning of 2017, we have foiled 10 Islamist and four right wing terror plots, and there is no doubt in my mind that would have been impossible without relevant information from the public,” he added.
Research suggests that while more than 80% of people are motivated to report suspicious activity, many are unclear about exactly what they should look for.
“Like other criminals, terrorists need to plan, and that creates opportunities for police and the security services to discover and stop these attacks before they happen,” said Mr Basu.
Suspicious behaviour may include storing chemicals, fertilisers or gas cylinders for no obvious reason, taking delivery of unusual items, or embracing extremist ideology and searching for material online.
Det Supt Glen Channer said everyone had a role to play in helping prevent terrorist attacks.
He added: “Any information, no matter how small, could ultimately help prevent a lethal attack, so I’d ask people across our region to familiarise themselves with the signs to look out for and come forward, in confidence, to ourselves to report any concerns.”
For more information, visit act.campaign.gov.uk.