Police support for Islamic centre after terror raids

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Police in St Helens have contacted leaders at the town’s mosque to “discuss concerns” over Wednesday morning’s terrorism raids.

They reached out to elders at the Islamic Community Centre in Elton Head Road, Sutton, after a 31-year-old Rainhill office worker was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

The man, who remands in police custody, was held after a search of offices in View Road where he works.

The Greater Manchester force has led the operation but the borough’s most senior police chief has confirmed her officers were contacting community groups, including the St Helens Islamic Centre, to offer reassurance.

There is no suggestion the arrested man has any connection with the St Helens Islamic Centre.

Chief Supt Julie Cooke said: “I understand that this kind of activity can cause concern for people living in nearby communities and would like to thank them for their understanding and patience.

“As a result of yesterday’s operation, Merseyside Police is working very closely with community groups, community leaders, partner agencies and individuals to make sure concerns are addressed and that we provide the best possible service to local people.

“Over the coming days and weeks we will be continuing to work with our local communities to address any concerns they may have. We always need the public’s help to defeat terrorism by being extra vigilant and letting us know of any suspicious behaviour or activity.”

Run by the Iman Trust, the St Helens Islamic Centre has held numerous charity and outreach events since opening in 2013, including regular food bank donations and snow clearing drives.

However, during its first few months it was targeted by the activists from the far-right British National Party, who launched a smear campaign to prevent its development.