Counter-terrorism police launch fight to raise awareness

(l-r) Alison Heydari, chief inspector for Portsmouth, David Williams, Portsmouth City Council chief executive, Harbi Ali, member of Portsmouth Jami Mosque, Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council and Will Schofield, superintendent for Portsmouth, outside Portsmouth Jami Mosque. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (143066-2182)
(l-r) Alison Heydari, chief inspector for Portsmouth, David Williams, Portsmouth City Council chief executive, Harbi Ali, member of Portsmouth Jami Mosque, Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council and Will Schofield, superintendent for Portsmouth, outside Portsmouth Jami Mosque. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (143066-2182)

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DOG units will be searching ports for cash and material used in acts of terrorism.

It comes as counter-terror police are running an awareness week aimed at preventing terrorists.

Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: ‘Local businesses and members of the public have a vital role to play in helping to keep their communities safe.

‘We can all be doing more to protect and prepare, simple things such as being vigilant with security in crowded places, monitoring our borders and being equipped and prepared to respond to any threat.

‘We are growing increasingly aware of the potential for radicalisation of our young people, this is a national issue which we sadly have first-hand experience of within Hampshire.’

As reported in The News, six young men from Portsmouth have left to fight with the group Islamic State (Isil) in Syria and Iraq.

One of the men is in jail, four are dead and another man is thought to be on the front line in Kobane.

Among the dead is Ifthekar Jaman, of Southsea, Portsmouth, known as the celebrity jihadi after giving a TV interview via Skype while fighting in Syria.

Mr Marsh added: ‘Our key message of the week is to remain alert to the danger of terrorism.

‘Please report anything suspicious to police.’

The Counter Terrorism Awareness Week will see officers speak to companies, schools and colleges about how to watch out for signs of terrorist-related activity.

Dog units will search ports while in another event farmers will be shown how to make sure fertiliser is secure.

Charities are also being asked to advise people how to donate cash safely.

The week will focus on vigilance in crowded places and transport hubs, stopping violent extremism, cutting off financing, and preventing access to terrorism tools.

It is a national initiative co-ordinated by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Hampshire police say reports of suspicious behaviour have nearly doubled since the terror threat was increased in August. Each is investigated by police.

United we stand

THIS national operation comes as local police and leaders have all united to condemn extremism.

Portsmouth City Council, Muslim faith leaders and Hampshire Constabulary sent a powerful message in a co-authored letter aimed at stopping radicalisation of younger people in our society.

Now while sniffer dogs work in our ports for signs of terrorism, officers and youth workers are going into schools and communities to stop the seed of radicalisation growing.

This approach tries both to stop acts of terror while also tackling the cause.

To read The News’ view on this click here.