As many UK families celebrate Ramadan, the police service is encouraging mothers in the UK to help prevent further tragedies – by talking to their daughters about the dangers of travelling to Syria.
In the last 12 months [1 July 2014 – 30 June 2015] 43 women and girls have been reported missing to police by families, all feared to have travelled to Syria, putting them in serious danger and leaving their families devastated.
This is the second time the adverts are being aired – they were originally aired in March. They will feature on minority ethnic radio stations across the country for two weeks.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball, Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said:
“Syria is an extremely dangerous place – the reality of life there is far from the image that terrorist groups actively promote to young women here in the UK. Families and communities are terrified that their daughters may be lured into travelling there.
“In some cases the appeal for women and girls may be a belief that their life will hold more meaning if they travel; it may be a misplaced sense of ‘glamour’ of marrying a fighter; or perceived difficulty as to how to reconcile their religion with modern life so that they feel compelled to follow, as they may see it, their religious obligation by joining other women in Syria.
“Stories of families who have suffered the devastating consequences of loved ones travelled to Syria are sadly becoming more common. These are young women who are highly unlikely ever to have the option of returning home.
“Our radio campaign has a clear message – we are urging mothers to talk to their daughters and, if they have any concerns at all, to have the confidence to come forward to talk to police and our partners at the earliest opportunity so that we can intervene and help.”
The adverts highlight the strong bond between a mother and daughter and the powerful influence that this relationship can have on a young woman and the decisions she makes. They encourage mothers to have open discussions with their daughters about issues such as travelling to Syria and what they are viewing online.
The radio campaign recognises that it is mothers who are often able to spot changes in behaviour or signs their daughter may be considering travelling to a conflict that millions are desperate to escape.
By urging mothers to have an open dialogue with their daughters, it is hoped that potential interest in travelling to Syria will be picked up at an early stage and that the mother will be able to take action, either by challenging the misconceptions or seeking help from other agencies, including the police.
Families are also encouraged to reach specially trained officers for help and advice by calling 101.