Police have identified a ‘small’ threat from separatists

A police chief has revealed the West Midlands force has been targeting Sikh terrorists operating in the region.

ACC Matt Ward
ACC Matt Ward

Assistant Chief Constable Matt Ward said the threat from Islamist terrorism remained the highest risk in the West Midlands, while right-wing terrorism was the fastest growing threat.

But he warned there were a small number of Sikh separatists operating in the region who sought to “propagate violence” as part of a push for an independent Sikh homeland.

But ACC Ward, a former head of counter-terrorism for the West Midlands, said the threat of India related terrorism in the region “continues to be low”.

He told a meeting of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s strategic board there were groups within India who “seek to use violence” to force an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan.

He added: “Some of those organisations have representatives within the United Kingdom and within the West Midlands – because we have a significant Sikh community – it is not surprising we have a small minority of individuals who have shown some extremist views.

“So we work closely with UK partners and international partners, that wherever we identify those risks, we take the necessary and proportionate action to tackle them.

Impact

“There has been activity we’ve taken as West Midlands CTU [Counter Terrorism Unit] to target those who have extremist views.

“It is relatively limited, it’s relatively small, but it can have a wider community impact.”

ACC Ward added: “I think it is really important that we don’t deny there are small numbers of individuals who have these views.

“If you’re planning terrorist attacks anywhere in the world outside the UK, that is an offence within the United Kingdom that we will investigate, and if there is evidence we will prosecute.”

A report to the strategic board said investigations had “continued to identify the presence of Islamist ideology within the region”.

It said the move to “self-initiated, low sophistication methodology” had continued to be observed, “maintaining risk as the ability by authorities to detect these individuals is reduced”.

The report added: “Some of those extremists who travelled overseas remain at large and would pose a significant risk to the region should they return.”

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