Police in South Yorkshire have added their voice to the national campaign to stop women and girls travelling to Syria from the UK.
In a statement released by South Yorkshire Police in conjunction with the national coordinator for counter terrorism policing, the force has drawn attention to a new film designed to creare awareness of the issue.
It said: “Latest figures from UK national counter terrorism policing show that women and girls are continuing to travel to Syria. The UK police service and partners are today (Tuesday 12th January) launching a new film urging mothers to prevent further tragedies.
“The short film focuses on three Syrian refugee mothers speaking directly to mothers in the UK about the realities of life in Syria and asking why any woman would want to take their family to live in a war zone. It is complemented by open letters that the women have written urging mothers in this country to take steps to prevent their daughters travelling to Syria.
“The film, which has been developed in association with the charity Families Against Stress and Trauma, is released on the same day as new figures reveal that, between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015, 56 women and girls were reported missing to the police by their families, all feared to have travelled to Syria.”
Helen Ball, Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism policing, will be launching the campaign at a community centre in London as part of an on-going initiative to encourage women and mothers to play their part in preventing their children from travelling to Syria and putting themselves in real danger.
The importance of the role of mothers in deterring other family members from travelling is also highlighted in the full findings of an online survey released today.
The national online survey was carried out between March and April 2015 by national counter terrorism policing . The survey revealed that two thirds (66 per cent) of 11-25 years old who were asked which family member they were most likely to talk to said they would speak to their mother if they were worried about someone they knew being radicalised or considering travelling to a conflict zone abroad.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said:
“We are deeply concerned about the numbers of girls, young women and also families who are taking the decision to go to Syria, unaware of the dangers they face when they arrive and the fact that they are unlikely to ever be able to return home to their devastated wider families.
“The personal accounts of the women in this film highlight the harsh reality of life for women and children living in a war torn country. I hope they will go some way to helping young women and mothers stop and think about the huge mistake they would be making if they travel.”
The results of the national online youth survey have also shown how important women are in helping to deter loved ones from travelling to Syria. This film provides credible voices that describe the realities of the situation in Syria actually is.
“Help and advice is available from a wide range of agencies. Anyone who is worried about a loved one and concerned they are considering travelling to Syria is encouraged to reach specially trained police officers by calling 101 or visiting www.preventtragedies.co.uk”
ACC Angela Williams from West Yorkshire Police said, “Forces across the region represented by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit are supporting this campaign by mothers imploring people not to travel to Syria.
“I would like to thank the women in the film for speaking out about the traumatic events in their home country which caused them and their families to find refuge in the UK.
“Prevent colleagues across the North East Region are working with communities and partners on a daily basis to discuss these issues and the film will be extremely useful in these discussions.
“Today I have been speaking with a group of women in Leeds about preventing tragedies and we have watched the film together. The film really shows that the messages circulated on social media by Daesh are misleading and do not reflect the reality of living in Syria.
“It is important for everyone do everything they can to help stop people from travelling to Syria and other conflict zones.
“Children have been taken to dangerous places and are at great risk; vulnerable people have been brainwashed into travelling.
“My message to mothers across the region is to please come forward if you have any concerns about your loved ones who may be considering travel to Syria. You can contact police on 101 and speak in confidence. We would much rather intervene at an early stage before somebody is criminalised. Alternatively help and advice is available from a number of agencies and www.preventtragedies.co.uk is a good source of information.”