Regional anti-terror unit formed
2 Apr 2007 1:50 BST
The first of four new regional police anti-terror teams in England has come into operation.
A Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) aimed at combating violent extremism has been launched in Greater Manchester.
Other CTUs in West Yorkshire, the West Midlands and London are being set up to gather intelligence.
Det Ch Supt Tony Porter, head of Greater Manchester's CTU, said the new unit will "enhance our capability to protect the public".
An anti-terror unit was formed by Greater Manchester Police two years ago, but the new CTU will be much larger and cover a wider brief.
Each CTU will have around 350 staff who will work alongside MI5 and other security services.
They will aim to gather intelligence on suspects planning attacks in the UK and abroad.
CTUs will also investigate individuals suspected of funding, assisting or planning terror, as well as the networks of people involved.
They will conduct covert surveillance in partnership with officers trained to recover data from computers seized in raids.
To help them analyse this information they will have access to specially-vetted interpreters.
Each CTU is intended to be "self-generating", carrying out "bottom-up" investigations and following up leads from other security services.
Their remit will also include "community engagement" and "consequence management" in the aftermath of raids.
CTU officers will make contact with neighbourhood police officers and community leaders prior to operations, without compromising the secrets.
Officers admit that "engagement" is not currently strong enough and "hearts and minds" too must be won.
Det Ch Supt Porter said he believed the CTU will build on good work already being done in the Greater Manchester area.
He added: "This is a significant development that will enhance our capability to protect the public from the terrorist threat.
"I can reassure people that the unit is being created so we can meet the challenges of the threat from terrorists.
"It is the main strand of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Home Office plans to tackle the terrorism in the UK and is not linked to any immediate threat to Greater Manchester."
Smaller Regional Intelligence Cells are currently being established in other regions including Wales, the East Midlands and South West.
What do you think of the new counter terrorism unit in Manchester? Will it help in the fight against terrorism? Have your say using the form below: