Towns including Luton, Portsmouth and Rochdale have emerged as hotbeds for suspected terrorists while 80 arrests made in the last year under the Terrorism Act were in London.

Home Office figures published on Thursday (10 December) showed the number of terrorism-related arrests in England, Scotland and Wales hit an all-time high of 315 in the year to September – a year-on-year increase of 31%. Of those arrested, 124 were charged, 22% (68) were released on bail and 37% (115) were released without charge.

While most arrests happened in metropolitan areas like London and Birmingham, a Sky News investigation into 195 arrests up until the end of October revealed less obvious locations like Cardiff, Derby, Luton, Portsmouth and Rochdale saw an increase in alleged terrorist activity. It also found there were fewer arrests in the capital but an increase in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester.

The findings come after four men from Luton were this week accused of supporting Daesh. Mohammed Istiak Alamgir, 36, Ziaur Rahman, 38, Yousaf Bashir, 35 and Rajib Khan, 37, were charged under the Terrorism Act 8 December with encouraging support of a proscribed organisation, namely Islamic State (Isis), in June and July.

Earlier this year Mashudur Choudhury, who is from Portsmouth, became the first person to be prosecuted for Syria-related terror offences. The 32-year-old was part of the "Pompey Lads", a group of IS (Daesh) converts along with Muhammad Mehdi Hassan, Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, Asad Uzzaman and Ifthekar Jaman. They were all killed after travelling to Syria in October 2013.

There was also the high-profile search for the Bethnal Green schoolgirls Kadiza Sultana, 16, Shamima Begum, 15, and Amira Abase, 15, fled to Syria. The girls ran away from their homes in February and were spotted on CCTV at a UK airport and in Turkey before slipping over the border into Syria. Reports claimed they had married Daesh fighters but later went on the run from their husbands.

Pompey Lads
Clockwise from top left: Muhammad Mehdi Hassan; Mushudur Choudhury; Muhammad Hamidur Rahman; Asad Uzzaman; Ifthekar Jaman