Words and photo by Dave Barry
The fight against terrorism has visited Scarborough in the form of an ‘anti-terror roadshow’.
Police volunteers handed out leaflets encouraging people to report anything they see or hear that could be terrorist related.
It was part of the latest Action Counters Terrorism (Act) campaign, launched in March by counter-terrorism police.
It’s designed to raise awareness of what, when and how to report suspicious activity to help prevent terrorist attacks.
The first roadshow was held at the Brunswick Pavilion shopping centre.
More will follow at public events in Malton and Dalby Forest, where general crime prevention advice and property marking will also be available.
Chief inspector Andy Colbourne, deputy commander for the Scarborough and Ryedale area, said: “Everyone has a part to play to keep our neighbourhoods safe and knowing what to look out for and how to report suspicions will be a huge help”.
Scarborough Council’s community safety and safeguarding manager, Sandra Rees, added: “The public need to be aware of the importance of reporting anything they think is unusual. If you are having that conversation with yourself along the lines of ‘something is not right’, then please trust your instincts and report it. In addition to holding these public events, we are also liaising with local businesses to ensure as many people as possible are getting these important messages”.
Neil Basu, assistant commissioner of specialist operations, was recently appointed as head of counter terrorism. He praised the public’s willingness to act in response to last year’s unprecedented rise in terrorist activity. It resulted in a record number of people contacting the police through online referral forms and a confidential hotline to report suspicious behaviour.
He said a call to action would encourage the public to report suspicious behaviour and activity via the online tool at gov.uk/Act, helping the police prevent terrorism and save lives.
“We have been saying for some time now that communities defeat terrorism”, Mr Basu said. “These figures demonstrate just how important the public are in the fight to keep our country safe.
“Since the beginning of 2017 we have foiled 10 Islamist and four right-wing terror plots. There is no doubt in my mind that it would have been impossible without relevant information from the public”.
Of nearly 31,000 public reports to counter terrorism police in 2017, about 6,600 (21%) resulted in useful intelligence, used to inform investigations or help build an intelligence picture of an individual or group.