Met’s new campaign hopes to encourage open dialogue within families and offer advice to parents concerned over what their girls are looking at online
An police ad campaign by aimed at preventing British women travelling to Syria, to become fighters or “jihadi brides”, targets Asian mothers in an attempt to harness their insights into the behaviour of their daughters.
The campaign, which includes radio and press adverts in UK ethnic media from Monday, comes after police were criticised by the families of three schoolsgirls still missing in Syria.
Police said that 22 UK females in the last year have disappeared and are believed to have gone to Syria . The new campaign focuses on the bond between mothers and daughters, encouraging them “to have open discussions with their daughters about issues such as travelling to Syria and what they are viewing online”.
It is not just young men who are travelling to Syria, several young women are known to have left home for the conflict leaving their families devastated and afraid. We know that the strong bond between a mother and daughter can have a powerful influence on a young woman. You can talk to your daughter about her feelings. You can see changes in behaviour or signs she may be about to travel to a conflict that millions are desperate to escape.
The campaign is the latest in a series aimed at preventing young people travelling to Syria. It comes after three male teenagers were arrested and bailed over the weekend after they were stopped in Turkey on suspicions of trying to join Islamic State in Syria.
It also comes after after families of Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, criticised the police their handling of their cases. They say police failed to pass on crucial information which may have alerted them to the fact a schoolfriend of their daughters had been lured by Isis to travel to Syria a week earlier .
In a statement announcing the new adverts, the Metropolitan police said: “The campaign recognises that it is mothers who often spot changes in behaviour or signs someone may be considering travelling to a conflict that millions are desperate to escape.
“By encouraging 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.”
The new police campaign includes a website, billed as a one-stop shop for concerned families, worried their children are at risk of wanting to disappear to join Isis.
Dep Asst Comm Helen Ball, senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said: “We care deeply about the wellbeing of women and girls throughout the world. We reject the degrading treatment of women by terrorist organisations and seek to prevent the tragedies caused by it.
“We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young women who have travelled or are intending to travel to Syria. It is an extremely dangerous place and the reality of the lifestyle they are greeted with when they arrive is far from that promoted online by terrorist groups.
“The option of returning home is often taken away from them, leaving families at home devastated and with very few options to secure a safe return for their loved one. We want to increase families their confidence in the police and partners to encourage them to come forward at the earliest opportunity so that we can intervene and help.”