Counter-terrorism: Thurrock residents asked to be alert to suspicious activity

Grays Police

THURROCK residents 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 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 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” 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.”

Assistant Chief Constable for Essex Police, Andy Prophet, said: “Keeping our communities safe and free from harm is a role for all of us. Chances are anything you see will probably turn out to be completely innocent but we would much rather you give us the chance to investigate to make sure.
“You will know what looks out of place where you live or work and it’s important you tell us.”

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).
ENDS
Interviews

To arrange an interview with Det. Supt. Glen Channer, please contact Charlotte Parker on 01234 842 390.

To arrange an interview with ACC Andy Prophet please call the Essex Police press office on 01245 452450.

ACT Background

In March 2017, National Counter Terrorism Policing launched ACT (Action Counters Terrorism), a new branding platform which incorporates all of our counter-terrorism external campaigns to warn, inform and reassure the public.

Make Nothing Happen was the first national advertising campaign to be launched under ACT. Its objective of encouraging the public to trust their instincts to report anything they see or hear which may be terrorist related, was underpinned by the message that cooperation between the public and the police remains the greatest advantage in tackling the challenges the UK faces from terrorism. The campaign ran across radio and digital channels over six weeks (of paid for activity) backed by a national and regional media and PR plan.

2018 ACT Campaign Narrative

Communities defeat terrorism. With the enduring terrorist threat, it is now more important than ever that everyone plays their part in tackling terrorism. Your actions could save lives.

That’s why Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) is encouraging communities across the country to help the police tackle terrorism and save lives by reporting suspicious behaviour and activity.

Like other criminals, terrorists need to plan. If you see or hear something unusual or suspicious trust your instincts and ACT by reporting it in confidence at gov.uk/ACT or, in an emergency, dial 999.

Some examples of suspicious activity or behaviour could potentially include:
Hiring large vehicles or similar for no obvious reasons
Buying or storing a large amount of chemicals, fertilisers or gas cylinders for no obvious reasons
Taking notes or photos of security arrangements, or inspecting CCTV cameras in an unusual way
Looking at extremist material, including on the so-called Dark Web, or sharing and creating content that promotes or glorifies terrorism.
Someone receiving deliveries for unusual items bought online.
Embracing or actively promoting hateful ideas or an extremist ideology.
Possessing firearms or other weapons or showing an interest in obtaining them
Holding passports or other documents in different names, for no obvious reasons
Anyone who goes away travelling for long periods of time but is vague about where
Someone carrying out suspicious or unusual bank transactions

You are not wasting our time, and no call or click will be ignored. What you tell us is treated in the strictest confidence and is thoroughly researched by experienced officers before, and if, any police action is taken.

Any piece of information could be important, it is better to be safe and report. Remember, trust your instincts and ACT. Action Counters Terrorism.

2017 Reporting Statistics

A total of 22955 reports were made to Counter Terrorism Police via the Anti-Terror Hotline. Of which, 5074 resulted in useful intelligence for the police, a conversion rate of 22.1%

A total of 8029 reports were made to Counter Terrorism Police via online reporting forms at gov.uk/ACT. Of which, 1585 resulted in useful intelligence for the police, a conversion rate of 19.7%

Cumulatively, 30984 reports were made to Counter Terrorism Police in 2017, of which 6659 (21.5%) resulted in useful intelligence for the police.

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