DORSET Police is backing a campaign which aims to warn young people off from travelling to war-torn Syria.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against all travel to the country and warns that anyone who does travel is putting themselves in considerable danger.
The whole of Syria is deemed unsafe and a number of UK nationals have been killed or injured fighting there. There is also a high threat from terrorism – with terrorist groups targeting UK nationals.
An event is being held at New Scotland Yard in London today by Counter Terrorism Policing aimed at encouraging communities to reach out to young people who may be planning to travel to Syria.
The campaign is aimed at encouraging people, particularly women, to have trust in the police and other authorities and make contact if they believe a loved one may be planning to travel to Syria.
A leaflet outlining the risks will be issued at ports.
It has been recognised that while some youngsters want to travel to fight in the conflict, many others want to offer aid and support to the Syrian people.
The advice is to donate to registered charities which work in such environments such as the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
Ian Ison, prevention team manager at Dorset Police, said: “There is widespread concern about the situation in Syria and other conflict zones and the way that some will be driven to travel there to engage in humanitarian work or to take part in the fighting.
“There are ways to support the Syrian people more effectively where aid will get to where it is most needed. We advise people not to travel to Syria in line with Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice.
“By travelling to Syria, individuals will be causing distress and anxiety to their families and friends. It is vital that anyone who has concerns that someone may be considering such travel contacts Dorset Police on 101 so we can help reduce the risk to their safety.
“UK nationals who travel to Syria will attract the attention of UK authorities because we know that a number of extremist groups are operating in Syria.
“Some people who travel from the UK to fight will pose a security threat when they return. The police are working closely with partners to identify and disrupt potential threats.”
The number of people travelling to Syria from the UK is judged to be in the low hundreds.