People across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are being asked to be alert to the signs of suspicious activity, in order to help prevent terrorist atrocities such as the ones the country experienced in 2017.
The latest phase of the ‘ACT - Action Counters Terrorism’ campaign launches today (Tuesday, March 20) and the new head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing has used the launch of a campaign to reveal that more than a fifth of reports from the public produce intelligence which is helpful to police.
The recently appointed Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations (ACSO) for the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu, praised the public’s willingness to ACT in response to last year’s unprecedented rise in terrorist activity, which resulted in record numbers of people contacting the police through online referral forms and the confidential hotline to report suspicious behaviour and activity.
Now he is launching the next phase of the ‘ACT –Action Counters Terrorism’ campaign, featuring a new 60 second film based on real life foiled plots which will show examples of terrorist-related suspicious activity and behaviour, as well as attack planning methodology.
A call to action will encourage the public to report suspicious behaviour and activity via the online tool (gov.uk/ACT), helping the police to prevent terrorism and save lives.
“We have been saying for some time now that communities defeat terrorism, and these figures demonstrate just how important members of the public are in the fight to keep our country safe,” says ACSO Neil Basu.
“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 to do without relevant information from the public.”
Of the nearly 31,000 public reports to Counter Terrorism (CT) Policing during 2017, more than 6,600 (21.2 per cent) resulted in useful intelligence - information which is used by UK officers to inform live investigations or help build an intelligence picture of an individual or group.
Research carried out by CT Policing suggests that while more than 80 per cent of people are motivated to report suspicious activity or behaviour, many are unclear exactly what they should be looking for.
The second phase of the ‘ACT –Action Counters Terrorism’ from CT Policing aims to educate the public about terrorist attack planning and reinforce the message that any piece of information, no matter how small, could make the difference between a lethal attack or a successful disruption.
“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 ACSO Basu.
“But we need your help to exploit these opportunities, so if you see or hear something unusual or suspicious trust your instincts and ACT by reporting it in confidence by phone or online.
“That could be someone buying or storing chemicals, fertilisers or gas cylinders for no obvious reasons, or receiving deliveries for unusual items. It could be someone embracing extremist ideology, or searching for such material online.
“This new film has been made to try and help people understand recent terrorist attack-planning methods, but also to demonstrate that each report from the public can be one vital piece of a much larger picture.
“The important thing for people to remember is that no report is a waste of our time - trust your instincts and tell us if something doesn’t feel right.”
Detective Superintendent Glen Channer, head of counter terrorism for the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), said: “Everyone has a role to play in helping to prevent terrorist attacks and we are fully supporting of this national campaign which aims to encourage people to report any suspicious behaviour.
“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.”
You can report suspicious activity to the police by calling 101, or visiting the ACT website (www.gov.uk/ACT).