Wiltshire Police is supporting a national campaign encouraging the public to help us defeat terrorism by reporting suspicious behaviour and activity.
The ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) public awareness campaign launched this week.
The threat from terrorism to the UK continues to stand at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. The threat has twice risen to ‘critical’ for brief periods over the past year.
From London to Manchester, the country has seen five tragic attacks in the UK over the past year with 10 others thwarted.
Alongside security partners, police are working tirelessly to tackle the threat and are experiencing broadly 30 per cent more counter terrorism work than a year ago.
Newly-appointed Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations (ACSO), 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 second 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 behavior, 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 6600 (21.2%) 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% 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” says 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.”
Superintendent Dave Minty, of Wiltshire Police, said: “This campaign is really important – communities defeat terrorism therefore it is vital that we make sure the public are aware of suspicious activity and how they can report it. We want people to continue to feel alert but not alarmed.
“Throughout the week we will be sharing messages across our social media encouraging members of the public to ensure they feel well informed about how to report suspicious online content or behaviour.”