The National Police Counter Terrorism Network and partners have rolled out the next phase of an awareness raising campaign designed to reach out to families to help prevent young people travelling to Syria.
The campaign will involve radio and press adverts appearing in minority ethnic media across the country from today, Monday 16 March.
The adverts highlight the strong bond between a mother and daughter and how that relationship can have a powerful influence on a young woman and the decisions she makes. They encourage mothers to have open discussions with their daughters about issues such as travelling to Syria and what they are viewing online.
In the last year 22 women and girls have been reported missing to police by families who feared they have travelled to Syria, putting them in serious danger and leaving their families devastated.
The campaign recognises that it is mothers who often spot changes in behaviour or signs someone may be considering travelling to a conflict that millions are desperate to escape.
By encouraging mothers to have an open dialogue with their daughters, it is hoped that potential interest in travelling to Syria will be picked up at an early stage and that the mother will be able to take action, either by challenging the misconceptions or seeking help from other agencies, including the police.
Families are also encouraged to contact specially trained officers for help and advice by calling 101 or visiting the Prevent Tragedies website. This is a dedicated webpage, newly created as a one-stop-shop for concerned families to visit if they would like further information or advice around this issue. The website also provides links to a range to a range of further organisations working in this field.
Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Helen Ball said: “This advertising campaign is part of our sustained efforts to continue to raise awareness around this very serious issue. We care deeply about the well-being of women and girls throughout the world. We reject the degrading treatment of women by terrorist organisations and seek to prevent the tragedies caused by it.
“We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young women who have travelled or are intending to travel to Syria. It is an extremely dangerous place and the reality of the lifestyle they are greeted with when they arrive is far from that promoted online by terrorist groups. The option of returning home is often taken away from them, leaving families at home devastated and with very few options to secure a safe return for their loved one.
“We want to increase families their confidence in the police and partners to encourage them to come forward at the earliest opportunity so that we can intervene and help.”
Chief Constable Mike Griffiths said: “As a national police force with responsibility for the armed protection of civil nuclear facilities and materials, counter-terrorism is at the heart of what the CNC do.
“While the CNC do not deal with people travelling to Syria, protecting the UK from future attacks as a result of exposing vulnerable individuals to the conflict clearly overlaps with our mission statement.
“The CNC is pleased to support awareness of this serious subject. You never know when the knowledge of these support mechanisms may be of benefit in protecting a tragic mistake by someone.”