COUNTER-TERROR police say they need the public’s help more than ever to help thwart the next deadly plot.
The UK will this week mark the first anniversary of the attack in Westminster – the first of five on UK soil in 2017.
And with the country’s terror alert level remaining at ‘severe’, meaning further attacks are highly likely, local security chiefs say information from the community is crucial to confronting the unprecedented threat from both Islamist and far-right groups.
New figures show more than 6,000 tip-offs across the country yielded useful intelligence last year.
Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, who leads the counter-terrorism policing unit for Yorkshire and the North East, said he did not want anyone to worry about wasting his officers’ time by reporting their concerns, saying just one piece of information “could be really significant for us in the bigger picture”.
Det Chief Supt Snowden urged people to “trust their instincts” if they had concerns either about people they knew or suspicious activity they had seen.
He said: “Examples are where people are buying or storing large amounts of chemicals or fertiliser for no obvious reason; whether people are taking notes or photos of security arrangements or inspecting CCTV cameras, again in an unusual way; or if people are receiving large volumes or unusual deliveries from online couriers.”
Det Chief Supt Snowden said people should also make a report if someone they knew was viewing concerning material online.
He said one particular sign which should raise concern was an individual going on the dark web – a network of hidden websites and untraceable activity – although he said terror plotting or radicalisation was “not exclusively [on] the dark web at all”.
A new phase of the national campaign Action Counters Terrorism begins today. It will see the counter-terror unit, based in West Yorkshire, staging a variety of events across the region over the next four weeks. A meeting for businesses will be held on April 16 in Leeds, where invited companies will be able to find out how they can be notified of ongoing enquiries and changing threat levels.
Vigilance ‘not just for cities’
It is not only people in larger cities who should be vigilant about spotting the signs of terrorism, Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden said.
The planning and preparation of terror attacks often took place in more isolated areas, he said, adding that the threat level of ‘severe’ covered every part of the country.
He said: “We would ask people in every town and city to have that level of vigilance and to come forward with their suspicions in any way.”
Reports can be made via 101, www.gov.uk/act or, in an emergency, 999.