The more we know, the safer we become

Charlie Pericleous is the Portsmouth coordinator for Prevent, the national strategy which aims to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Here, he talks about local work to challenge all forms of extremism.

The UK threat level is currently at severe, meaning a terror attack is highly likely. But it was raised to critical twice in 2017, indicating an attack was expected imminently. We've had to face the reality of this threat in the five horrific terror attacks the UK has experienced this year.

The ideologies of terrorists range from neo-Nazi views, held by Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik and by Thomas Mair, who murdered MP Jo Cox, to the beliefs shared by the killers of soldier Lee Rigby, which were inspired by Daesh (ISIS or so-called Islamic State).

In Portsmouth work is under way to challenge extremism in all its forms. Young people play a vital role in this, and an important part of this work is talking to students in schools and colleges.

Powerful talks have been given recently by Mike Haines, whose aid worker brother David was beheaded by Daesh, and by Bjorn Ihler, who survived the Anders Breivik attack in which 69 people were killed.

Not so long ago, you may have seen news coverage of six Portsmouth men who travelled to Syria. Later there were headlines about two Portsmouth brothers who helped some of them and were jailed on terror charges. With organisations such as Families against Stress and Trauma (FAST) we have helped local communities challenge the extremist ideology of Daesh.

Often parents don't know the best way to protect children from extremism and other online risks. So we've been working with national groups Parent Zone and Web Guardians to equip kids and parents with skills to use the internet in a safer way.

It's crucial we encourage everyone to think about what they see online – to ask questions, be critical and keep themselves safe. This is what Prevent is about.

Extremists want to spread fear and distrust, and they prey on weakness or use anger to radicalise people. We would want to act if someone we cared about was being sexually abused, getting bullied online or becoming involved in drugs or gangs. Being drawn into terrorism is no different. Our Prevent work is about protecting people and supporting them before they hurt others or get hurt themselves.

With local youth charities Motiv8 and Pompey in the Community, we have hosted 60 Respect workshops with young people, discussing extremism, hate crime and world events, and helping them test ideas and use critical thinking skills. In 2018 such work will continue, including talks by former members of extreme far-right groups.

Since 2015 we have also provided training for more than 3,000 professionals, including teachers and social workers, to help them understand what makes people vulnerable to extremism and how they can safeguard people they work with.

Extremists deliberately use misinformation or distorted facts to groom and manipulate vulnerable people. But the more we know, the safer we can become.

Witness appeal following suspicious incident in Portsmouth

 

We’re investigating a report of a suspicious incident in Butterfly Drive, Paulsgrove, last night (3 April).

At about 8.10pm a man is alleged to have grabbed a 9-year-old girl’s ankle, as she was stood on a green communication box. 

The girl stamped her foot and screamed out and the man walked away.  He is believed to have got into a car, where a second person was seen.  The car then drove off.

Detective Inspector James Stewart said: “We have not received any similar reports in the area, therefore this is being treated as an isolated incident, at this time.

“More often than not, this type of incident turns out to have innocent explanation, however we would like to reassure the community that we take all such reports seriously and that a thorough investigation is being undertaken”

“Officers have been patrolling the local area, conducting house to house enquiries and distributing information leaflets to reassure the local community. 

“As always, we advise parents to remind children of the stranger danger message.   Our advice is always to stay alert, not alarmed and to report anything suspicious on 101, or in an emergency or if a crime is in progress call 999.”

If you witnessed the incident or saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area, we’d like to hear from you.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting 44170124648.

Witness appeal following suspicious incident in Portsmouth

We’re investigating a report of a suspicious incident in Butterfly Drive, Paulsgrove, last night (3 April).

At about 8.10pm a man is alleged to have grabbed a 9-year-old girl’s ankle, as she was stood on a green communication box. 

The girl stamped her foot and screamed out and the man walked away.  He is believed to have got into a car, where a second person was seen.  The car then drove off.

Detective Inspector James Stewart said: “We have not received any similar reports in the area, therefore this is being treated as an isolated incident, at this time.

“More often than not, this type of incident turns out to have innocent explanation, however we would like to reassure the community that we take all such reports seriously and that a thorough investigation is being undertaken”.

“Officers have been patrolling the local area, conducting house to house enquiries and distributing information leaflets to reassure the local community. 

 “As always, we advise parents to remind children of the stranger danger message.   Our advice is always to stay alert, not alarmed and to report anything suspicious on 101, or in an emergency or if a crime is in progress call 999.”

If you witnessed the incident or saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area, we’d like to hear from you.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting 44170124648.

UPDATE – Police issue further detail after Southsea sexual assault

 

Detectives are now in a position to release a description of the offender after a 48-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in Southsea earlier this morning (Friday 31 March).


The victim was out walking two dogs when she was approached from behind by a man in the Manners Lane area at around 5.45am.

The man was disturbed when two male cyclists road past, causing him to flee the scene.

The victim suffered a minor injury to her face and was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital as a precaution.

The offender is described as white, approximately 5ft 8ins to 5ft 9ins tall. He was wearing dark clothing including a hooded top with the hood up and gloves which may have been leather.

Detective Inspector Adam Price said: “We are particularly appealing for the two cyclists to come forward as they may have information which could help the investigation.

“We are also very keen to speak to a woman who was in the area and was approached by the victim a short time after the assault asking for help.

“Were you in this area of Southsea this morning? Do you know who the offender may be? Please contact us if you have any information which could help us identify the person responsible.”

The Neighbourhood Policing Team are conducting increased patrols in the area over the next few days, anyone with concerns is encouraged to contact them by calling 101.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Eastern Investigations on 101, quoting 44170119402, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Witness appeal following robbery in Southsea

 

We’re appealing for witnesses to a robbery in Delamere Road, which happened sometime between 2pm and 2.40pm on Saturday (1 April).

A 22-year-old woman was hit in the arm by a man, causing her to drop her iphone 6S.  The man then picked up the phone and ran off. 

The woman was unhurt in the incident, although she was left shocked.

The suspect was described as:

  • White man
  • 18-20-years-old
  • About 5’ 6” – 5’ 7” tall
  • Skinny build
  • Short, mousey-brown hair
  • At the time of the incident he was wearing blue jeans, a grey t-shirt and white trainers.

We would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed this unusual and isolated incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting 44170121631. 

Appeal following sexual assault in Southsea this morning

 

Police are investigating a sexual assault in Portsmouth this morning.

A 48-year-old woman was out walking two dogs when she was approached from behind by a man in the Manners Lane area of Southsea at around 5.45am.


The man was disturbed when two male cyclists road past, causing him to flee the scene.

The victim suffered a minor injury to her face and was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital as a precaution.

We are currently at the scene, part of which has been cordoned off to allow our investigations to continue.

Officers are appealing for the two cyclists to come forward as they may have information which could help the investigation.

They would also like to speak to a woman who was in the area and was approached by the victim a short time after the assault.

Anyone with information is asked to call DC Samantha Barber on 101, quoting 44170119402, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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