Education is the key in the fight against terrorism on the streets of Yorkshire, the head of counter terrorism police has said as it was revealed officers are running more than 700 live investigations across the country. .
An investigation by the Yorkshire Post has revealed that since May 2017, six terrorists from Yorkshire have been jailed, with a further five defendants awaiting court appearances later this year. Of those, five are under the age of 19.
From two 14-year-old school boys who plotted to gun down innocent classmates at a North Yorkshire school in a replica version of the 1999 Columbine massacre, to a 16-year-old boy from Bradford who constructed a "viable CO2" bomb before threatening to "go on a rampage" and "kill many people", these young people threatened mass destruction on the streets of Yorkshire.
Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, says it is vital young people are educated to prevent them from being radicalised.
The Prevent strategy, which aims to stop children becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, is currently used in classrooms across the region.
DCS Snowden said: "Working within the Prevent strategy is a key part of our daily business and good relationships with local authorities and educational establishments is vital the success of Prevent and the safeguarding of our young people.
"We work very closely with authorities across Yorkshire to ensure that safety advice with regards to terrorism is delivered and embedded across educational establishments. This includes through ACT for Youth which provides a visual package showing young people what to do if they see suspicious behaviour or a suspicious item and the understanding of the Run, Hide, Tell message.
Figures released by CTP reveal 18 attack plots have been foiled since March 2017, of which 14 were Islamist and four extreme right wing.
There were also 273 arrests by police in the 12 months to December 31, 2018. Of the arrests 63 per cent were related to international terrorism and 18 per cent to extreme right wing.
DCS Snowden said: "The UK, Counter Terrorism Policing and police and security and intelligence services are working tirelessly and at pace to confront the terrorist threat and help keep the public safe.
"As part of the national counter terrorism network, we have specialist officers and staff working across the north east to find information and evidence to thwart terrorist planning and bring perpetrators to justice.
“The CT policing network is currently working on a record number of over 700 investigations. These investigations, the majority in partnership with MI5, focus on a range of activities, including fundraising, radicalising and preparing acts of terrorism.
“Working closely with MI5 and other partners we prioritise our resources against cases that pose the most risk to the public."
Like other criminals, terrorists need to plan and DCS Snowden is urging anyone who sees or hears something unusual or suspicious to trust their instincts and report it to police.
Some of the signs to look out for include sharing and creating content that promotes of glorifies terrorism; taking notes or photos of security arrangements or inspecting CCTV cameras in an unusual way; and someone who may go away travelling for long periods of time but is vague about where.
Other signs can also include someone receiving deliveries for unusual items bought online, holding passports or other documents in different names for no obvious reason and someone carrying out suspicious or unusual bank transactions.
DCS Snowden says the cooperation between the public and the police is a powerful defence.
He said: “With the enduring terrorist threat, it is now more important than ever that everyone plays their part in tackling terrorism.
“The cooperation between public and police is a powerful defence. Consequently, in recent years, attacks have been prevented and lives have been saved.
“Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) is encouraging communities across the country to help the police tackle terrorism and save lives by reporting suspicious behaviour and activity.
“You are not wasting our time, and no call or click will be ignored. What you tell us is treated in the strictest confidence and is thoroughly researched by experienced officers before, and if, any police action is taken.
“Any piece of information could be important, it is better to be safe and report. You can help the police prevent terrorism and save lives.
“If you see or hear something unusual or suspicious trust your instincts and ACT by reporting it in confidence at gov.uk/ACT or, in an emergency, dial 999.”