Counter Terror Policing: We are stronger together
As many of us continue to follow international developments, Counter Terrorism Policing are urging the public to support them, by reporting suspicious activity closer to home this winter. The Senior National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare, Laurence Taylor, explains the current threat picture and the critical role businesses can play in combating the terrorist threat.
At this time of year, we all tend to reflect on the past twelve months and the work that we have been involved with.
For our officers, staff and investigators, the tempo of our work has continued to increase right across the country and it has also deepened in complexity. However, for Counter Terrorism Policing, our core mission remains the same – to keep the public safe.
As the Home Secretary made clear whilst revealing the refreshed CONTEST strategy in the summer, the threat from terrorism in the UK remains very real, with the current threat level set at ‘substantial’, meaning an attack is ‘likely’.
Right now, there are more than 800 live investigations ongoing and since March 2017, we have disrupted 39 late-stage terror plots alongside our partners. We talk about this not to alarm the public, but to demonstrate the continued scale of our work, much of it going unseen, which is absolutely how it should be.
The international picture
There is no doubt that communities right across the UK have been touched by, and felt the impact of, recent events in the Middle East, and there is a continuing sense of concern at the escalating humanitarian situation.
Global events of such scale, and the stability of the Middle East have implications for the international community, and we are of course alive to the impact on the UK and our own national security.
Domestically, UK policing must now support and reassure some of our communities at a time of great emotion, heightened anxiety and fear.
Counter Terrorism Policing have been working alongside our government partners, assisting with the identification of victims and the repatriation of British nationals trapped in the region.
At the same time, we continue to carry out our core duties – gathering evidence relating to the terrorist attack by Hamas, providing protective security for our communities, and taking steps to identify potential terrorism offences in the UK.
Since the escalation of the conflict, the number of reports made by the public to the Anti-Terrorism Hotline have doubled compared with the same period last year, with the number of reports that have been useful to investigators quadrupling.
Similarly, the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), has also seen a significant increase in referrals made by members of the public when compared with the same period last year.
To those who have contacted us with concerns, thank you – your information can make a significant difference to our investigations.
In the coming weeks we know that millions of people will begin to celebrate festivities with their colleagues, friends and families at Christmas markets and other venues across the country. These activities and events bring our communities together, spreading joy and festivity, as well as helping to support local businesses and economies.
Unfortunately, history tells us that these locations can be attractive targets for terrorists. We only need to look at the low-level sophistication used to carry out devastating and deadly attacks in Germany, Spain and Belgium in recent years – the worst can happen.
Our officers continue to work around the clock to identify and respond to any intelligence that will prevent an individual or group from carrying out any planned terror activity. To best protect our communities it is vital that we develop close relationships with businesses and commercial organisations across the UK.
Between April 2022 and March 2023, Counter Terrorism Policing received more than 13,000 reports from members of the public. This is significant because one in five reports were used for intelligence purposes.
Whilst we have the operational resources and skills to respond to suspected terror activity, you know your towns, streets, businesses, and communities best. You may also have the unique insight into your customers’ online activities.
So, what we’re asking from you is simple. You know when something doesn’t feel right so please follow your gut instinct and report suspicious terror activity via gov.uk/ACT or our Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 739 321. In an emergency, always call 999.
Many of you will also have existing relationships with our Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSAs); they are there for you – to advise and support you with any questions or guidance you might need to prepare your business and protect your employees, or customers.
We all have a responsibility to play our part by remaining alert.
We cannot do this on our own. We can only do that to the very best of our own capability and capacity with your help.
“We are, stronger together.”
Senior National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare Counter Terrorism Policing