North East communities asked for their support in reporting online extremism (3 April 2018)

With the enduring terrorist threat, it is now more important than ever that everyone plays their part in tackling terrorism.

Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) encourages communities to save lives by reporting suspicious behaviour and activity.

A person's usage of the internet is one area that may cause suspicion or lead to a change in their behaviour. People can easily be exposed to extremist materials that are easily accessible online. Those involved in terrorism and violent extremism recognise its power and use it as a tool for recruitment and radicalisation.

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden is the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) North East. He said: "Usage of online platforms is very apparent in a large number of counter terrorism investigations.

"This could be this be someone viewing extremist material online, using it as a tool to promote terrorist ideology or sharing images and videos that glorify terrorism.

"We also have the internet been used as a way of drawing people into extremist behaviour or as a tool for a person to self-radicalise.

"It is therefore vital that we do all we can to stop this type of material cluttering the internet and social media. If you become aware of extremist material online, or are worried that a person may be accessing this kind of information, then please ACT and report your concerns in confidence at gov.uk/ACT".

Police and partners are active in tackling online radicalisation through both the work of the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) and joint working such as the ongoing anti-radicalisation project supported by the University of Bradford, and West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson and CTU North East.

The project looks at the data available in different ways to give an understanding of how an individual can be radicalised online. By looking at the techniques used by those who use the internet to promote terrorism and target vulnerable people, it will give agencies the ability to focus resources to assist investigations and support the work of Prevent.

Director, Dr Andrea Cullen from the University of Bradford, said: "It is important to understand how and why people become radicalised in order to help address this serious issue.

"Our research looks at understanding the triggers and the ongoing process. We are working towards establishing early intervention and support points to help to stop radicalisation before things escalate."

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "Communities defeat terrorism. We must work together to prevent people from being radicalised in the first place.

"There are often a number of complex factors which can make somebody vulnerable to radicalisation so it is crucial that we work together across communities to identify those at risk, including those being radicalised online, as early as we can and divert them away from extremism of any kind."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018