The Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and National Lead for Counter Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley announced the latest national counter terrorism (CT) arrest figures today.
They outlined how the police service is tackling the current threat from terrorism both at home and abroad.
AC Mark Rowley gave the latest arrest figures to demonstrate the increasing scale of the challenge:
In the last financial year [April 2014 – March 2015] there were 338 CT-related arrests.
That is a 33% increase on the 254 that were arrested the previous year.
157 [46% of the total arrested] were linked to Syria.
56 of those arrested are under the age of 20 – The police recognize that this is an emerging trend.
These arrests range from fundraising for extremist causes right through to facilitation, preparation and execution of terrorist attack plans.
Non-Terrorism legislation is also frequently and effectively used to disrupt extremists, with a significant number being arrested for criminal offences such as fraud.
The rise in activity is reflected by the fact that there are currently 114 people awaiting trial for CT-related offences.
This follows the prosecution of 89 people, who were convicted in the previous year.
This includes Brusthom Ziamani who was convicted of engaging in preparation of terrorist acts and was sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley released the following statement:
The type and level of threat is complex and ranges from lone actors intent on carrying out crude and violent attacks to sophisticated networks set on completing ambitious and coordinated plots.
Around 700 extremists are believed to be among the many Britons who have travelled to Syria, a significant proportion travelling to join ISIL.
ISIL and other terrorist groups are trying to direct attacks in the UK; encouraging British citizens to travel to Syria to fight and train; and are seeking, through propaganda, to provoke individuals in the UK to carry out violent attacks here.
As part of the online fight against terrorism the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), assess terrorist and violent extremist material on the internet.
During an average week, the unit is removing over 1,000 pieces of TACT (Terrorism Act 2006) breaching content.
Approximately 800 of these are Syria/Iraq-related and posted on multiple platforms.
The police, and CT officers are currently trying to reach out to communities, on a ‘one-to-one level’,
This is combined with campaigns and initiatives to raise awareness, dissuade people from being drawn into violence, and warn of the consequences of travelling to Syria.
The Prevent programme is trying to achieve partnerships between CT officers and other public security services.
They aim to work closely with other statutory agencies and community groups to safeguard those vulnerable to radicalisation.
The CT body hopes to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.
They’re directing their efforts into ‘supporting individuals who may be at risk.’
AC Rowley said:
There is no doubt of the horrific nature of the offences being committed overseas. The influence of those who wish to bring similar violence to the streets of the UK has been an increasing threat here.
The rise in level of activity is matched by increased action by police and security services, who are currently working on hundreds of active investigations. We cannot be complacent and will continue to work with our partners, and especially the people of the UK, to do everything we can to stop those who intend to spread fear and bring harm to others.
Please report anything suspicious to the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321. Anyone with concerns about online material should use the online reporting tool at http://www.gov.uk/report-terrorism.