Hampshire And Dorset Police Step Up Terror Fight

24 November 2014, 06:36 | Updated: 24 November 2014, 06:39

Hampshire and Dorset Police are stepping up their fight against the threat of terrorism in the UK this week.

In Hampshire, officers will be speaking to students in schools and universities about how to avoid being drawn into terrorism. Four men from Portsmouth were killed recently, fighting for Islamic State in Syria.

Police will also be doing searches with dogs at ports and showing farmers how to store potentially dangerous fertilizer securely.

Today (Monday 24 November) sees the start of Counter Terrorism Awareness Week, a national initiative co-ordinated by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

CT Awareness Week focuses on a series of daily themes.  These include crowded places, transport, preventing violent extremism, firearms and explosives, terrorist financing and terrorist tools.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh says its important to support this national campaign:

"Local business and members of the public have a vital role to play in helping to keep their communities safe.

"We are growing increasingly aware of the potential for radicalisation of our young people, this is a national issue which we sadly have first hand experience of within Hampshire.

"Our officers work very closely with local authorities and other partners 24 hours a day to protect the public and banish the threat of terrorism.  That work can never stop, and is more important now than ever.

"During Counter Terrorism Awareness Week we will be speaking with groups in both the public and private sector including schools and colleges, to raise awareness of the threat and signs to look out for that may indicate terrorist-related activity may happening.

"Officers who specialise in preventing terrorism will be working with the Dog Unit to carry out operations at ports looking for cash and materials which can be used in the commission of terrorism.

"We can all be doing more to protect and prepare, simple things such as being vigilant with security in crowded places, monitoring our borders and being equipped and prepared to respond to any threat.

"CTAW is not designed to scare people, but to reassure that we are prepared, and enhance the public's understanding of the any potential threat they face, and encourage them report it to the police.

"We need businesses to check that their security measures are effective and train their staff to detect potential threats and, if necessary, respond to an attack."

The police regularly hold security events with businesses with interactive presentations such as Operation Griffin.

Through the week, we will be focusing on five key areas where action by the police, businesses and the public can prevent terrorism: vigilance in crowded places and transport hubs, preventing violent extremism, cutting off terrorist financing, and preventing access to tools that terrorists need to operate.

Officers will be speaking to students in schools and universities about the Prevent strategy, which provides practical help to stop people from being drawn into terrorism; with theatre groups performing at some schools to raise awareness.

Other events will follow through the week, showing how police work with farmers to ensure that fertilizers are stored securely and with charities to advise people about safe ways to donate money to ensure that they do not unknowingly fund terrorism. Police forces will also be using social media to engage people in the conversation.

Since the terror threat level increased on 29 August, reports of suspicious behaviour have nearly doubled. This is a direct result of reporting by members of the public, and every report is investigated.  

"Our key message of the week is to remain alert to the danger of terrorism," said Chief Constable Marsh.

"Please report anything suspicious to police on 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321."

If your information doesn't relate to an imminent threat, you can also contact your local police on 101 or visit the Hampshire Constabulary website which has a link on its homepage which you can click on to report information.

In Dorset, a series of mobile roadshows will take place across the county to address the above issues. Police Community Support Officers will be providing a high visibility presence at a variety of transport hubs and crowded places offering support, advice and reassurance to members of the public.

The events have been planned in partnership with the Dorset Race Equality Council and Mr Yasin, Imam for the Bournemouth Islamic Centre. Members of the Muslim communities have been invited to join the event to help promote the concerns and feelings of their community in addition to the awareness campaign for these sensitive issues.

Chief Superintendent Jane Newall said:

"This is a National Awareness Week designed to promote awareness in our communities and not to alarm the public. The terror level increase refers to the whole country and not Dorset specifically.

"This week is intended to make the public aware of terrorism and give people the confidence to report anything they feel is suspicious.

"I would like to reassure the communities of Dorset that we live in a safe county. If you know or suspect anything suspicious please call The Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.

"Your information could save lives."