Police call on public to help
tackle increasingly complex and varied terrorist threat
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, Assistant
Commissioner Mark Rowley, will launch a new Action Counters
Terrorism, or ACT, campaign today (Monday March 6) - urging the
public to report suspicious activity to the police.
Detective Superintendent Glen Channer, head of the Eastern
Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit (ECTIU), said: “Communities can
be confident that, together with our partners, Eastern forces are
continually working hard to safeguard the public. As part of ACT,
we are encouraging our public to work hand-in-hand with us, acting
as our eyes and ears and reporting anything that concerns them.
“We know that information from the public continues to play
significant part in recent successes in countering terrorism.
However, officers need even more information to help build better
intelligence pictures on individuals or groups plotting
“The threat of terrorism 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.”
The campaign is launched as the current threat, which remains
'Severe', meaning an attack is highly likely - continues to
diversify and expand. This is seen in cases where terrorists have
been able to reach across the world to radicalise often vulnerable,
volatile or chaotic individuals and groups, and inspire and direct
them using instant and secure communications.
Assistant Commissioner 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.”
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.
Research to support the ACT campaign looked at public attitudes
towards CT policing. Over 80% of respondents said that it was
important for communities to work with police to prevent terrorism.
However a quarter of those surveyed said they might not report
their suspicions because of fears over wasting police time and 39%
were unsure about what suspicious behaviour might look like.
Mr Rowley adds: “Our call and report numbers are increasing and
research has shown many people want to play their part, but some
people worry they might be wasting our time or they are not sure
what sort of activity might be suspicious. So we want to allay
those concerns and help them to help us make nothing happen.”
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