March 16, 2009 / 1:52 AM / 10 years ago

London police launch counter-terrorism PR campaign

LONDON (Reuters) - London police launched a new counter-terrorism publicity campaign on Monday, calling on residents of the capital to keep their ears and eyes open for anything suspicious and to report it.

A police officer guards the cordoned area near the scene where police defused a bomb in central London in this June 29, 2007 file photo. London police launched a new counter-terrorism publicity campaign on Monday, calling on residents of the capital to keep their ears and eyes open for anything suspicious and to report it. REUTERS/Guy Dresser

The campaign is not linked to any specific threat, police said, but rather a reminder that attacks have happened in the past and could easily happen again. The slogan is: “Don’t rely on others. If you suspect it, report it.”

“Terrorists can be stopped in their tracks if suspicious activity is passed to the police,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner John McDowall, the head of the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command, said in a statement.

“They will not succeed if people report something unusual they have seen while going about their daily lives.

“We want people to look out for the unusual — some activity or behaviour which strikes them as not quite right and out of place in their normal day-to-day lives — and to take responsibility for reporting it.”

London has seen several failed and successful attacks in recent years, most notably the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings on the Underground and the bus network which killed 52 people.

The Metropolitan Police have overall responsibility for counter-terrorism policing and have been at the forefront of gathering evidence in a series of cases against suspected terrorism plotters in recent years.

The campaign calls on London’s 8 million residents to pay particular attention to anyone suspicious who is buying chemicals, logging on to militant websites or carrying out surveillance of prominent buildings.

“Terrorists have a lot of work to do before they attack. They need money and may commit cheque, credit card and identity theft to finance their activities,” McDowall said.

“Terrorists use chemicals. Do you know someone buying large or unusual quantities of chemicals for no obvious reason?

“No piece of information is considered too small or insignificant.”

The campaign, to be broadcast on radio and in newspapers, will run for several weeks and encourage people to call a hotline to report anything suspicious.

The move comes a week after three killings by militants from breakaway factions of the IRA in Northern Ireland. In the past, the IRA and Republican splinter groups have carried out attacks on mainland Britain, as have Islamist militants.

“This campaign is asking all members of the public — people who live in London, as well as those who work in and visit the city — to trust their instincts,” McDowall said.

Reporting by Luke Baker; Editing by Alison Williams

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