Police renew calls to the public to help identify would-be terrorists.
West Midlands Police has renewed calls to the public to help them identify would-be terrorists planning to travel to Syria and Iraq.
The appeal comes after one of Britain’s most senior counter terrorism officers, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, revealed there had been a rise in the number of Syria-related investigations in London and the West Midlands.
Officers say they are committed to disrupting terrorist activity but need family members to alert them to anyone showing signs of radicalisation. Many of the young people from the West Midlands suspected to have travelled to the conflict zone had no previous links to extremist groups, making it harder for police to identify those aspiring to join organisations such as the Islamic State.
“We are seeing young people who previously had no reason to be known to the authorities, being radicalised.” says Detective Chief Superintendent Sue Southern, head of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit. “It makes working with communities all the more important if we are to stop young people from becoming involved in terrorist activities.
“If anyone is concerned that someone they know is thinking of travelling to Syria and Iraq it is very important that they tell the authorities as soon as possible. The police and other agencies can offer support to help safeguard individuals who are vulnerable to radicalisers. The sooner we can intervene, the better chance we have of preventing people from being drawn in to the conflict.”
West Midlands Police has had a number of high profile Syria-related investigations that have resulted in people appearing in court. Next month two 22-year-olds from Handsworth will be sentenced for terrorism offences. Two others – a man and a woman – are due to stand trial in September and October.
“We have a number of other on-going investigations involving individuals suspected of fighting with proscribed groups,” adds DCS Southern. “Anyone who does travel to the region faces being questioned by police when they return. Every case is assessed individually but if there are grounds to suspect a person has been involved in terrorism they will be arrested.
“We are urging families to let us intervene at a much earlier stage to help safeguard young people. We understand there is a desire to help the suffering in Syria and encourage anyone wanting to play a part to donate to one of the established charities who are experienced in delivering aid to those in need.”