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250,000th piece of online extremist/terrorist material to be removed

News   •   Dec 23, 2016 14:08 GMT

[Image: Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit infographic]

This Christmas, a police team created to tackle extreme and terrorist material online is on course to have the 250,000th piece of harmful material removed from the internet since the unit was launched in 2010.

The national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) works with Internet service providers (ISPs) to have extremist and terrorist material removed.

At the CTIRU's request, around 300 companies globally have removed material that includes; propaganda videos, pictures of executions and speeches calling for racial or religious violence.

Every day, officers from the CTIRU trawl the Internet, looking for material. They also investigate material that members of public and partners flag up to them through an online reporting system.

Officers then contact ISPs to request the removal of harmful material where it breaches their terms and conditions.

The CTIRU, based within the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, refers material to investigation teams nationally when it is identified that an offence may have been committed under the Terrorism Act or other legislation.

Detective Chief Superintendent Clarke Jarrett, from the Counter Terrorism Command, said: 

"Removing this material is crucial work. One post or video has the power to influence vulnerable people and inspire extremists and terrorists, so every removal really counts.

"This landmark figure is a result of our productive relationship with service providers, partners and counterparts nationally and globally. 

"The public has played a key part in helping us to identify and seek the removal of so much damaging material, so I thank everyone who has reported material to us and urge the public to continue doing so."

Anyone who sees material that they suspect is extremist or terrorist is urged to report it by filling in a short and anonymous form at, where they will be asked to enter the address of the webpage where they have seen the material. 

They will also be directed to the form if they click on the distinctive red "STOP" button that can be found on numerous police and partner websites.

CTIRU fact file:

The CTIRU was the first unit in the world set up to tackle the proliferation of illegal terrorist and violent extremist content on the internet.

The rise in extremist and terrorist propaganda has been met by counter terrorism policing through its work with communities and partners, and the CTIRU's proactive approach in tackling it. 

On average, the CTIRU now instigates the removal of over 2,000 pieces of material a week. As of Wednesday, 21 December it had instigated the removal of approximately 249,091 pieces of material, which means it is on course to have 250,000 pieces removed by Christmas Day.

Every year the CTRIU receives more reports of material from concerned members of the public:

2010 and 2011 = 0 reports referred to the CTRIU;
2012 = 1,167;
2013 = 923;
2014 = 1462;
2015 = 2,995;
Jan - 21 December 2016 = 2,239

Following referrals from the public, partners and its own investigations, the CTRIU has instigated the removal of more extremist and terrorist material year on year: 

2010 and 2011 = 1,527 pieces of extremist and terrorist material removed from the web;
2012 = 1,885;
2013 = 17,541;
2014 = 51,431;
2015 = 55,556;
Jan - 21 December 2016 = 121,151