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Arrests in Britain over terrorism at all-time high, say police

By Hayden Smith

Terror-related arrests have surged to a record high, with suspects held at a rate of more than one every day as security services confront a "momentum shift" in the threat.

A senior detective warned there is no such thing as a "typical terrorist" after official figures showed rises in numbers detained across ethnicities and age groups.

There were 379 arrests for terrorism-related offences in Britain in the year ending June 2017, the highest number in a 12-month period since data collection began in 2001.

Arrests jumped by 68% year on year, with the increase partly driven by activity mounted amid a flurry of terrorist incidents in four months earlier this year.

The 379 total includes 57 arrests made in connection with the Westminster (12 arrests), Manchester (23 arrests), London Bridge (21 arrests) and Finsbury Park (one arrest) attacks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said: "We would describe this as a shift not a spike.

"There has been a momentum shift since the attacks in London and Manchester and that simply means there are more people out there prepared to attack."

The senior officer said the figures should reassure the public that police and MI5 are working "night and day" to disrupt and arrest people "who are determined to hurt us".

The Home Office data also reveals that in the year to June:

l Fifty-four female terror suspects were arrested - at 14% of the total, this was the largest proportion on record.

l Seventeen of those held were aged under 18, which is the highest number for any July-June period in the current data series.

l There were rises in the number of arrests across all ethnic groups, including a 92% jump, from 66 to 127, in the number of white suspects detained.

Mr Basu said the figures show there was "no such thing as a 'typical' terrorist" and urged the public to report any suspicious activity to police.

"We've seen people from all walks of life," he said.

"We've seen people young and old, male and female, we've seen the highly-educated and the illiterate.

"We've seen people with mental health problems, people with previous criminal histories, we've seen people we've had no knowledge of before."

It emerged earlier this year that counter-terror agencies are running 500 investigations involving 3,000 individuals at any one time.

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