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Tackling terrorism

Tackling Terrorism


West Midlands Police has a dedicated Counter Terrorism Unit, based in Birmingham but operating as part of a national CT network.

Threats are constantly reviewed and we will keep the public informed of any developments in our region. At present there is no specific threat to the West Midlands. However, as we have seen on many occasions, there are a small number of individuals who seek to carry out acts of terrorism and we must therefore all remain vigilant.

This section of the website aims to provide information and advice for members of the public and for the business community on the role they can play in helping to defeat terrorism.

We welcome feedback on our work. You can contact the CTU by emailing

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The government's national counter terrorism strategy is known as CONTEST.

West Midlands Police runs a dedicated operation by the same name, coordinating the force's counter terrorism activity in the region.

Our approach is multi-focused and includes elements to prevent terrorist acts, measures to ensure offenders are identified and prosecuted, training and information sharing to minimise the possibility of terrorists acts taking place at all, and pro-active engagement with the community to prevent vulnerable individuals being recruited by violent extremists.

To reflect the national approach, West Midlands Police addresses counter terrorism through the following four activity strands:

To Pursue

We aim to pursue terrorists and their sponsors by improving our understanding of terrorist networks, tracking down terrorists, disrupting their activity and bringing them to justice.

To Protect

We can help protect the public by ensuring that the West Midlands increasingly becomes a harder target for terrorist activity. To do this we work with local agencies and businesses to advise them and help them develop a counter terrorist strategy.

To Prepare

The force constantly assesses the potential consequences of a terrorist attack and seeks to improve its resilience to cope with this and other major disruptive challenges. We work in close partnership with other agencies and regularly hold large and small scale training exercises.

To Prevent

This is a long term and vital element of CONTEST, focusing on building relationships with all members of the community and enhancing links with key organisations.

Our 'Prevent' work will provide not only reassurance to vulnerable groups but also potentially impact upon the underlying causes of terrorism and diminish support for terrorists.

The objectives for Prevent nationally and locally are to:

  • Respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it
  • Prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support
  • Work with a wide range of sectors (including education, criminal justice, faith, charities, the internet and health) where there are risks of radicalisation which we need to address

To drive the Prevent agenda forward, the force has set up a dedicated department within its Counter Terrorism Unit to focus on establishing and developing successful partnerships.

Uniformed counter terrorism officers- called Security and Partnerships Officers - are now working across key neighbourhoods to promote 'Prevent' within their areas. Schools, colleges mosques, prisons, community centres, youth and sports clubs and women's groups are all being invited to play an active role in this project which seeks to bring the whole community together to defeat violent extremism.

The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit

Although part of West Midlands Police, WM CTU is a regional unit – one of five across the country that form the counter terrorism policing network.

Most of our work is based within the WMP area but we can also be assigned responsibility for investigating cases anywhere in the country.

We have teams of officers and staff that offer the following specialist skills:

CT investigators, financial investigators, forensics, Hi-Tech investigators, surveillance, training and exercising, analysts, CT security advisors, Prevent officers and Ports officers (at Birmingham Airport).

These are some of the high profile operations we have led:

Operation Handler

Two 22 year old friends from Handsworth were among the first in the UK to be convicted of Syria related terrorism offences. They had duped their parents and travelled to the conflict zone to engage in armed activity. They pleaded guilty in 2014 and received sentences of 12 years and eight months.

Operation Clockface

An investigation into bomb attacks on three Black Country mosques in 2013 led to the arrest of a Ukrainian student - who then confessed to the murder of an 82 year old grandfather from Small Heath. The engineering post graduate was motivated by an extreme right wing ideology. His guilty plea at the Old Bailey resulted in a minimum 40 year prison sentence.

Operation Pitsford

A network of 11 extremists from Birmingham all either pleaded guilty to, or were convicted of, various terrorism offences. The men were sentenced in 2013. Three will serve long terms for plotting a UK bombing campaign that could have been bigger than the London attacks of 2005.

Operation Alva

This operation involved a group of six terrorists who were plotted an attack on an EDL rally in Dewsbury in 2012. The men all pleaded guilty and received lengthy sentences. Police discovered knives, guns and an improvised explosive device which lead to a major round-the clock investigation to track down the offenders.

Operation Norbury

This was the investigation into a group of nine suspects from Stoke on Trent, Cardiff and London who, in January 2011, pleaded guilty to a variety of offences including plotting to cause an explosion at the London Stock Exchange and setting up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

Operation Ranmoor

A 2010 investigation into the online activity of Bilal Ahmad who was convicted, in 2011, of soliciting the murder of MPs who had voted for the Iraq War.

Operation Spherical

Resulted in the 2008 conviction of Hassan Tabbakh for attempting to make bombs for a terrorist attack.

Operation Gamble

Central to the plot was the plan to kidnap and murder a British Muslim soldier. Five men were convicted in 2008 for a variety of offences – one was given a life sentence for his role. Four more men were convicted in 2009 for their part in helping facilitate terrorism overseas.

Use the following link to view more information about radicalisation.

More information on Tackling Terroism