Posted: Wednesday 8th July 2015
This week marks the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005 and in the last few days we have witnessed the atrocities carried out in Tunisia, with the loss of many lives including Claire Windass and Bruce Wilkinson from our own area. My thoughts are with their families.
These acts on foreign soil have both shocked and angered us, and we must never think extreme acts of terrorism cannot happen here. Both 7/7 and the brutal killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in London proved it can. In the last decade the police and security services have worked tirelessly, both locally and nationally, to identify potential threats to our safety and understand what motivates such individuals to carry out these barbaric acts.
The most important thing to remember is that this is not just an issue for the police and their partners to manage, it involves all of us. The police need and rely on communities to work with them to spot the signs of extreme behaviour and report suspicions. When I travel to London I always have my wits about me and observe people around me on the tube and trains, yet when I come home I feel more relaxed and less nervous, why is that? Like many people I have probably been guilty of thinking terrorists acts only happen in places like London, but the truth is the capital is heavily protected and terrorists know this, so it would be no surprise if they looked for ‘softer’ targets. Let’s not forget that three of the 7/7 bombers were from Yorkshire.
Every police force including Humberside has a team of special branch counter-terrorism officers and staff who are doing vital work to protect us. The very nature of their work means they are out of the public eye, but rest assured they are there. They not only monitor known potential threats but also work with those who are in danger of becoming radicalised, operating a programme of support and intervention to get upstream of the problem and turn people away from radical behaviour.They are part of a national network sharing information as suspects can often move around. Very often radicalisation takes place online, and those targeted are often vulnerable and feel marginalised.
Our news bulletins and papers are full of stories of Islamic extremism, but extreme behaviour also comes from far right groups and anarchist elements who infiltrate genuine groups such as those protesting about environmental issues. There is no single threat to public safety, there are many.
So what are the signs we can look for? Someone whose behaviour starts to change over a period of time, they may start using extremist language, change their appearance and become isolated or secretive. If you are in any doubt and have suspicions report it. There is nothing wrong with picking up the phone and saying ‘It may be nothing, but…’ You can report suspicions to the police on 101 or the national anti-terrorist hotline – 0800 789 321. Together we can reduce the risk and protect ourselves and others.