New Head Of Counter Terrorism Unit Calls For Public Vigilance In Fight Against Terrorism

Merseyside Police is backing calls from the new head of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NW CTU) in urging communities across the North West of England to support the police in the fight against terrorism.

In a week-long campaign, the NW CTU will encourage people working and living in the North West region to be vigilant and report any suspicious or unusual behaviour to the Confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on0800 789 321.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, Head of the NW CTU, said: "Recent events in Algeria and Mali have shown that the threat from international terrorism is very real and has in no way dissipated.

"Indeed, a number of my own officers are currently supporting national colleagues following these tragic events in North Africa. We have seen in the past how global events impact on local communities and it is critical that we all do our utmost to combat the threat from terrorism both at home and abroad."

Police say that public vigilance is vital in the fight against terrorism, and as people know their communities they will know when something seems out of the ordinary.

If members of the public see something that is unusual or out of place, they need to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline. Officers are urging people to trust their instincts and pick up the phone, as they could be providing the crucial piece of information that is needed.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole added: "There are individuals within our communities who seek to exploit vulnerable people for extremist purposes and we all have a responsibility to stop that from happening. We need the help of the public in identifying those people, so if you are concerned about an extreme and unexplained change in someone's behaviour, please contact the Anti-Terrorist Hotline in confidence.

Detective Superintendent Martin Andrew, from Merseyside Police's Force Intelligence Bureau, said: "We have tried and tested working joint practices in place that not only seek to detect and prosecute those involved in terrorist activity, but that also protect individuals who may be vulnerable to exploitation by extremists.

"In the recent past we have seen a number of instances here in the North West of individuals researching or planning acts of terrorism in the safety of their own home. All forces in the North West want to put a stop to that and we need the public of Merseyside's help in identifying those individuals in the area."

The best way for people to help the police is by storing the Anti-Terrorist Hotline number in their mobile phone or diary, and any calls will be treated in confidence.

This campaign is the latest phase of work by the NW CTU to raise public awareness about the threat from terrorism. It is not linked to any current threat.