Posted: Friday 6th February 2015
The terrible events in Paris recently and the reports of mass atrocities in Africa show beyond all doubt that the civilised world continues to be under threat from a growing brand of extremism.
Our nation has come through wars and conflict in the past, but the enemy we are now up against operates in a totally different way. Today’s terrorists are already here, and the police and security services are taking all the steps they can to review our security strategies to protect the public.
Those who commit these terrorist acts here and abroad do not represent Islam and nobody should be fooled into thinking they do. Their distorted views of this peaceful religion are just as abhorrent to the vast majority of Muslims as they are to the rest of us.
The events of 9/11 in the USA, the 7/7 London bombings and the Paris shootings have emphasised the need for intelligence, and demonstrated that policing is not just about boots on the ground. If a terrorist cell wants to commit atrocities the likelihood is they will. The only way we can stop them before it’s too late is by gathering information, looking for the signs of suspicious activities, being aware of anything unusual and most importantly, reporting it.
Security and safety is everyone’s business, and the public have their part to play, together we are an army of eyes and ears. You may think this level of security is only carried out by the likes of MI5 and GCHQ, but in every police force up and down the country intelligence units are at work every day monitoring suspicious behaviour, trawling online sites and forums, including the so-called ‘dark web’. These police officers and staff are not walking the beat, you may never see them, but they are there, playing a vital role to gather intelligence on who may be planning to commit this type of crime. A nationwide strategy called Prevent aims to counter terrorism and identify those individuals who are at risk of being drawn into extremism, but it would not work without information from the public.
The police fully understand that people may be reluctant to tell them about suspicious activity or behaviour because they think it‘s not important, but small things that seem out of place can be useful as part of a bigger investigation, just one piece of information could be crucial in disrupting terrorist activity. Any information can be reported to the police by calling 101 and you are not wasting anyone’s time by saying ‘It’s probably nothing but I think you should know…’.
It’s important to remember such incidents are rare and like our predecessors in the war, we should keep calm and carry on, but always be vigilant.