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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 15 June 2021

700 British people have travelled to Syria, most of them wanted to join ISIS

Police released new statistics today.

THERE WERE ALMOST 340 terrorism-related arrests in Britain over the period of a year – and 56 of those involved were under 20.

That’s according to new figures released by the Metropolitan Police today, which show the scale of the issue facing the force.

The Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and National Lead for Counter Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley announced the latest national counter terrorism (CT) arrest statistics for the UK today.

AC Mark Rowley said that from April 2014 – March 2015:

  • There were 338 counter-terrorism-related arrests
  • That is a 33% increase on the 254 that were arrested last year
  • 157 [46% of the total arrested] were linked to Syria
  • 56 are under 20-years-old, which is “worrying” emerging trend

The arrests were for reasons including:

  • Fundraising for extremist causes
  • Facilitation, preparation and execution of terrorist attack plans.

The Met Police said that they frequently use non-terrorism legislation to disrupt extremists, with a significant number being arrested for criminal offences such as fraud.

Rise in activity

shutterstock_103344503 Source: Shutterstock/Dutourdumonde Photography

The police said that the rise in activity is reflected by the fact that there are currently 114 people awaiting trial for CT-related offences.

Eighty nine people were convicted of CT-related offences in the last financial year .

AC Rowley said that officers from the CT network are working on hundreds of investigations across the country.

The type and level of threat is complex and ranges from lone actors intent on carrying out crude and violent attacks to sophisticated networks set on completing ambitious and coordinated plots.

Around 700 extremists are believed to be among the many Britons who have travelled to Syria. A significant proportion of them travelled to join ISIL.

AC Rowley said that:

ISIL and other terrorist groups are trying to direct attacks in the UK; encouraging British citizens to travel to Syria to fight and train; and are seeking, through propaganda, to provoke individuals in the UK to carry out violent attacks here.

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Terrorism online

The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) assesses terrorist and violent extremist material on the internet.

  • During an average week, the unit removes over 1,000 pieces of TACT (Terrorism Act 2006) breaching content.
  • Approximately 800 of these are Syria/Iraq-related and posted on multiple platforms.

People with concerns about material can report it to the police at this website.

Police are working with communities “to dissuade people from being drawn into violence and warn of the consequences of travelling to Syria”.

AC Rowley said: “There is no doubt of the horrific nature of the offences being committed overseas. The influence of those who wish to bring similar violence to the streets of the UK has been an increasing threat [to the UK].”

But he added:

The rise in level of activity is matched by increased action by police and security services, who are currently working on hundreds of active investigations.

The police asked the public to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the UK’s anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

Read: ECHR rules detention of Irish citizens for terror offences not unlawful>

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