Lawyers ‘can help in battle against terrorism’

LAWYERS are being reminded of the role they can play in fighting terrorism as part of a week-long series of initiatives organised by senior police officers.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has organised counter-terrorism awareness week, which started yesterday and includes a heightened police presence at airports, sea ports shopping centres and sports events.

Targeted operations will take place at key sites to stop terrorist activity or criminal efforts which may help fund or support the cause of violent extremists.

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As part of the campaign, ACPO wants to raise awareness of the threat posed by the funding of terrorism.

ACPO is reminding solicitors and accountants of the role they can play in stemming the flow of funds to terrorist groups.

A Law Society spokesman told The Yorkshire Post: “Solicitors play a key role in facilitating business and financial transactions that underpin the UK economy. Counter-terrorism awareness week is a good opportunity for solicitors to remind themselves of the Terrorism Act.

“It places them under the same obligations they will be familiar with from the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

“The Law Society’s practice note on anti-money laundering (AML) outlines solicitors’ obligations and - along with the Law Society website’s dedicated AML pages - is the best place to start for solicitors needing a reminder of what’s expected of them.”

As a result of solicitors’ roles in major transactions, there have been concerns that terrorists could target their services to help them commit financial crimes or to launder the proceeds of crime. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the National Policing Lead for Counter-Terrorism, said he needed help from the public to protect the UK.

“The danger posed by violent extremists has evolved,’’ he said. “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.”

Reports of suspicious behaviour have nearly doubled since the UK terror threat level was increased in August, according to ACPO.