Police under 'serious pressures' to manage terror threat

Police are under serious pressures managing the threat of terror with an "extremely concerning" up-tick of far-right extremist activity, key figures have warned.

Saturday, 18th May 2019, 7:00 am
Police are under serious pressures managing the threat of terror with an "extremely concerning" up-tick of far-right extremist activity, key figures have warned.

The former head of counter terrorism, Mark Rowley, has warned UK police have a bigger proportion of investigations that are at the "bottom of the pile and getting little or no work at the moment".

His comments were echoed by Shadow Policing and Crime Minister Louise Haigh.

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She said: "Counter terror policing is under such strain that investigations into individuals of concern are being put on hold. That cannot be right.

"With the terror threat now described by experts as 'stratospheric', it is vital counter terrorism police are given the resources they need to keep us safe."

Counter terrorism police are currently handling over 700 investigations, while MI5 has more than 3,000 subjects of interest on its watch list, as well as over 20,000 former subjects of interest, some of whom are thought capable of moving to violent action again.

An investigation by the Yorkshire Post has revealed that since May 2017, six terrorists from Yorkshire have been jailed, with a further five defendants awaiting court appearances later this year. Of those, five are under the age of 19.

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, says it is vital young people are educated to prevent them from being radicalised.

The Prevent strategy, which aims to stop children becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, is currently used in classrooms across the region.

DCS Snowden said: "Working within the Prevent strategy is a key part of our daily business and good relationships with local authorities and educational establishments is vital the success of Prevent and the safeguarding of our young people.

"We work very closely with authorities across Yorkshire to ensure that safety advice with regards to terrorism is delivered and embedded across educational establishments. This includes through ACT for Youth which provides a visual package showing young people what to do if they see suspicious behaviour or a suspicious item and the understanding of the Run, Hide, Tell message."

His comments are echoed by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson who has invested heavily in working to make sure children across the region are not radicalised.

He said: "There are often a number of complex factors which can make somebody vulnerable to radicalisation so it is crucial that we come together, with partners including West Yorkshire Police, local authorities, safeguarding boards and the voluntary sector, across the community to identify those at risk as early as we can and safeguard them from extremism.

“The Prevent duty gives direction for the police and partners around our shared responsibility to combat the threat of radicalisation within our communities and we will ensure that we are all playing our part in this."