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AC Matt Jukes: neighbourhood policing is vital to the CT mission

In this post Head of Counter Terrorism Policing Matt Jukes recognises the vital role that neighbourhood policing teams play in maintaining CTP’s local to global reach.

This week, forces across the UK are marking Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action to highlight the vital work that officers, PCSOs and volunteers do to protect the public. 

During Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action, I wanted to take a moment to recognise the importance of the relationships that our Counter Terrorism Policing network maintains with our local force colleagues.

Whilst the public might not immediately identify the link between a local PCSO and the world of counter terrorism and national security, as officers we all know how vital that connection is. 

The neighbourhood police officer who runs hotspot patrols at the local precinct, tackles anti-social behaviour in town, speaks to children at the annual lantern parade and responds to calls about burglaries and neighbour disputes, certainly has a part to play in keeping people safe from terrorism.

We know this from our investigations, many of which start in the heart of a local community, after concerns are raised by frontline colleagues, often when dealing with a very different call for help.

Every day neighbourhood policing teams live and breathe their communities, building relationships, looking for opportunities to prevent crime and to intervene as early as possible when things seem to be going down a dangerous path.

When it comes to countering terrorism, this means identifying those at risk of radicalisation, individuals who may be engaging in hateful extremism, people who are perhaps sharing such views, or grooming others into their way of thinking, or inciting violence to further toxic ideologies.

Our neighbourhood officers work, and sometimes live, in the spaces where this happens, they know when things don’t seem right, and they are trusted by local people. Add in their professionalism, training and expertise and they know exactly when and how to take action.

Last year, the final founding members of the proscribed terrorist group National Action were jailed as a result of a myriad of painstaking and complex investigations by Counter Terrorism Policing teams. The catalyst for one of those investigations was the work of a neighbourhood police officer, responsible for investigating stickering at a university campus. This collaborative approach from the very start, resulted in significant convictions for dangerous, terrorist offenders.

Another case in the saw a local PCSO raise concerns with Counter Terrorism Policing colleagues, after they spotted worrying drawings and propaganda at an address whilst arresting a burglary suspect.  

Another example are our fantastic Project Servator teams, now operating in more than half of police forces across the UK, using a powerful combination of local knowledge and specialist training to spot anything that doesn’t seem right and disrupt a range of criminal activity, including hostile reconnaissance.

This demonstrates how vital neighbourhood and community policing is to the Counter Terrorism Policing mission.

We are truly collaborative. Our network stretches across the UK, with regional Counter Terrorism Units working around the clock to keep people safe. We have officers, staff and investigators embedded in every police force, where they work alongside local policing counterparts, sharing intelligence, ideas and investigations.

Almost 40 late-stage terror plots have been disrupted in the last five years, and we are currently working on over 800 live investigations.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the professionalism and support of our neighbourhood policing colleagues, together with our partners.

We say that every police officer is a counter terrorism officer. Our neighbourhood policing colleagues are the embodiment of this, making a significant contribution to the local to global reach we value so highly to help us counter a threat that knows no borders.

This week I’m going to be spending time with officers in parts of London, such as Chiswick, to see exactly how these close relationships between neighbourhood policing, CTP operational teams and our communities play out, each and every day.

We all have a responsibility to keep people safe and it’s only right that, during Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action, we thank our colleagues for the contribution they make to this important mission.

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