New head of counter terrorism calls for women’s action on Syria

The new head of counter terrorism for the West Midlands is urging women to help stop young people getting involved in the Syrian conflict.



Det Chief Supt. Sue Southern, who took up her new role this week, will launch a campaign in Birmingham today (April 24) aimed at safeguarding youngsters tempted to join the fighting.

The event will be attended by women from community groups, Prevent workers and representatives from Birmingham City Council and local charities. 

It is aimed at encouraging women to reach out to other women who are concerned about young people who may be planning to travel to Syria. 

Det Chief Supt. Southern will ask the delegates to continue the conversation within their communities so that everyone can play a part in protecting young people from the risks.

Similar events are being held across the whole of the UK today in an effort to reach out to as many women from the affected communities as possible. 
 
To support the campaign, a leaflet has been designed which outlines the dangers of travelling to Syria and will be issued at ports and airports across the country. This can be viewed here. (http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/docs/keeping-you-safe/behind-the-badge/tackling-terrorism/ACPO_Syria_booklet_04.04.14.pdf)

The number of people travelling to Syria from the UK is judged to be in the low hundreds and available information shows that the number of Syria-related arrests increased substantially in 2014. The figure for the whole of 2013 was approximately 25 yet for the first three months of 2014 alone it is approximately 40.

Since January five people from Birmingham have been charged with Syrian-related offences and are currently awaiting trial.  

Det Chief Supt. Southern said: "One of our key messages is the importance of letting people who genuinely want to help the Syrian cause know how they can do so safely and legally. 

"The advice is to donate to registered charities which have experience of providing humanitarian assistance in high risk, insecure and dangerous environments and which have ongoing relief operations in Syria and/or neighbouring countries, such as the Disasters Emergency Committee or its member charities.

"We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young people who have or are intending to travel to Syria to join the conflict. We want to ensure that people, particularly women, who are concerned about their loved ones are given enough information about what they can do to prevent this from happening. 

"We want to increase their confidence in the police and partners to encourage them to come forward so that we can intervene and help. We want to inform those who wish to genuinely help the Syrian cause how they can do so safely and legally."