Fears: Police are in talks with the Government over more resources for combating terror
Almost 20 teenage girls fled Britain to join Islamic extremists in Syria last year, it has emerged.
The stream of young women covertly leaving their families in the UK to live in the Islamic State is a “growing problem” of “real concern”, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball.
The Met’s National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism added that police are in talks with the Government about getting “extra resources” to combat the worrying trend.
Ms Ball told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “In the last year, about 22 young women have travelled to Syria. And when I say young, all but four of those 22 were aged 20 or younger.
“The last five who’ve travelled were aged 15 and 16.
“This is a growing problem and it’s one of real concern.”
Her comments came after three schoolgirls from East London left their homes and are believed to have travelled to Syria during February half-term.
It is feared Kadiza Sultana, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase fled in a bid to become ‘jihadi brides’ for ISIS terrorists.
New CCTV footage emerged today which appears to show the trio waiting at a bus station in the Turkish capital Istanbul before they crossed the border into Syria.
The three “bright, straight-A students” from Bethnal Green Academy and were able to fly unchecked to Istanbul.
Missing: The three girls at Gatwick Airport before they flew to Turkey
The schoolgirls may have now joined the other 400 British females – many also as young as 15 – already feared to have joined the Islamic militants, either as frontline fighters or as brides for the jihadis.
Questions have been raised as to whether airlines should do more to prevent young women flying out to Syria.
Ms Ball said: “The more everybody involved understands this problem and can be alerted and be vigilant and look out for people, the better. “