Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, Counter-Terrorism Policing’s senior national co-ordinator, has again called upon members of the public to play their part in the fight against terrorism as the Home Office released its quarterly arrest statistics. The latter’s statistics relating to the police’s use of powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 have revealed that the total number of counter-terrorism related arrests fell to 259 in the year to September 2019, representing a decrease of 20% on the previous year.
This is a continuation of the downward trend seen since the spike in arrests recorded in 2017-2018, and returns the volume of arrests to around the average level since the current records began in 2002.
Haydon said: “We are seeing the number of counter-terrorism arrests gradually return to the levels we experienced before 2017. They’re more in keeping with the average seen over the last 20 years. Even though the number of arrests is gradually declining and we’ve recently seen the UK terrorism threat level lowered from ‘Severe’ to ‘Substantial’, we must all continue to play our part in this fight. The attack at London Bridge that claimed the lives of two people is a terrible reminder that we must remain vigilant, and that terrorism continues to be one of the greatest threats to our safety and security.”
Haydon continued: “With that in mind, Counter-Terrorism Policing recently launched its festive campaign, asking the public to enjoy all that the Christmas season has to offer, but also to be our extra ‘eyes and ears’ when out and about in busy towns and cities. If anyone sees anything that causes them concern, tell staff or security personnel or contact the police at gov.uk/ACT. In an emergency always call 999.”
Attack plots on the rise
Of the 259 arrests, 88 (34%) resulted in a charge, of which 62 were charged with terrorism-related offences. Of those 62, 24 were prosecuted while another 27 are still awaiting prosecution.
While the last 12 months has seen a gradual reduction in both arrests and convictions, Haydon warned that the number of attack plots foiled by the police and the security services continues to rise.
He added: “When we consider these latest arrest statistics, we should also remember that Counter-Terrorism Policing and UK intelligence services have foiled 25 attack plots since March 2017. We are also running more than 800 live investigations across the country. That’s a record high. I would urge everyone to remain vigilant and act if they see anything suspicious by reporting it to us on a confidential basis.”
The public is indeed playing a crucial role in helping the police and the security services disrupt terrorist activity, with more than 22% of all reports from the public producing intelligence which is helpful to the former.