25 Tach 2014

Counter terrorism Chief ‘We can’t protect Wales from terrorism without help from the public’ Countering terrorism in Wales has for too long been thought of as the preserve of the police, security agencies and government, says the Wales lead for Counter-Terrorism Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Holland. As police forces across the country launch a counter terrorism awareness week to involve the public in preventing terrorism, ACC Holland calls for people and businesses to be prepared to play their part in keeping the country safe: “The danger posed by violent extremists has evolved. They are no longer a problem solely stemming from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, far away in the minds of the public. Now, they are home grown, in our communities; radicalised by images and messages they read on social media and prepared to kill for their cause. “Police officers and our partners are continuing to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to protect Wales from a terrorist attack. So far this year across the UK, we have disrupted several attack plots and made 218 arrests following counter-terrorism investigations, but the eyes and ears of law enforcement and other agencies alone cannot combat the threat. “While the severe threat level indicates that it is highly likely that a terrorist attack could happen in the UK, there is currently no specific intelligence of a terrorist attack within Wales.” During the week of awareness there will be a focus on five key areas where action by the police, businesses and the public can prevent terrorism, they are crowded places, transport hubs, preventing violent extremism, terrorist financing, and the tools that terrorists need to operate. The UK’s counter-terrorism strategy CONTEST, focuses on four key areas; pursue, prevent, protect and prepare. Most of the publicity around terrorism is based on ‘pursue’ and ‘prevent’, as these involve arrests and the disrupting of actual attack plots, but ACC Holland is keen to stress that we can all be doing more to ‘protect’ and ‘prepare’ – ensuring security in crowded places, monitoring our borders and being ready to respond to a terrorist attack ACC Holland continued: “Following the increase of the international terrorism threat to severe there is a heightened need to ensure that Wales and the UK is in the best position to deter and detect potential terrorist threats. “We don’t want to scare people but we do want them to understand the threat and be vigilant to things that are out of place or suspicious and report it to the police. “Experience tells us that terrorists have targeted busy, well-populated places to ensure that attacks have a maximum impact. Businesses throughout Wales, particularly those in crowded places, have an invaluable role to play in our fight against terrorists, violent extremists and other criminals. Staff are often the first people to spot signs that something is wrong. This week we are training more people working in shopping centres, cinemas, sports stadiums and other businesses throughout Wales to look out for suspicious behaviour and what they should do if an attack happens. Since the terror threat level increased on August 29 reports of suspicious behaviour have nearly doubled. This is a direct result of reporting by members of the public, and every report is investigated. ACC Holland continues: “Please tell us if you know or suspect something; your information could save lives. We will deal with information passed to us carefully and respond sensitively and proportionately.” The Anti-Terrorist Hotline number is 0800 789 321 Further information about the CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/protecting-the-uk-against-terrorism