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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Terror police have foiled three attacks since since start of pandemic

Counter Terrorism Policing disclosed the information on Thursday as Home Office figures showed the number of arrests for terrorism-related activity fell by 34 per cent in 2020, the lowest level in nine years.

Despite this, the number of terror plots prevented has risen to 28 since March 2017, police said.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, the senior national coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “These statistics tell me two things.

“Firstly, that despite facing unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic, Counter Terrorism Policing continued to keep the public safe by making 185 arrests across more than 800 live investigations, stopping three possible terror attacks in the process.

“And secondly, that while the rest of us have been focused on protecting ourselves and our families from this terrible disease, terrorists have not stopped planning attacks or radicalising vulnerable people online.

“As we follow the Government’s road map out of the tightest restrictions there will be greater opportunity for terrorists to operate, and we want the public to join the police, security staff and retail workers in a collective community effort to minimise the chance of attack.

“We know from experience that public information and action helps save lives and lead to the significant arrests detailed in these statistics.”

He said: “In December 2020, the UK Counter-Terrorism Referral Unit saw a seven per cent rise in the volume of terrorist content online and we can see a worrying rise in the proportion of children and teenagers that are now being arrested for terrorism offences.”

Mr Haydon also warned that the data published on Thursday indicated a “worrying trend” was developing, with children under 18 being the only age category which saw an increase in arrests – rising from 12 in 2019 to 19 last year.

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