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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Terrorism threat levels

The system of threat levels was created to keep you informed about the level of threat the UK faces from terrorism at any given time. This threat level goes up or down whenever information about terrorism indicates an attack is more or less likely. Find out what the threat level is now.

The current threat level

The terrorism threat level is currently set at 'substantial' from international terrorism and Irish-related terrorism.

That means the government believes a terrorist attack is a 'strong possibility' from both international terrorism and Irish-related terrorism.

The threat levels

The threat level indicates how likely it is that there will be a terrorist attack in the UK or against its citizens or interests abroad.

There are five levels of threat, which are listed below from the highest to the lowest:

  • critical - an attack is expected imminently
  • severe - an attack is highly likely
  • substantial - an attack is a strong possibility
  • moderate - an attack is possible but not likely
  • low - an attack is unlikely

Setting the threat level

The national threat level is set by the Security Service (MI5) and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. It is based on information gathered by intelligence services and the police about known or suspected terrorist plots.

If a plot is believed to be near completion, the threat level could be raised. If a known plot has been stopped, and the plotters arrested, the threat level may be dropped.

Threat levels do not have an expiry date, and can be changed at any time as the information available to security agents changes.

What should you do?

While it can be frightening when the threat level is raised, it is very unlikely that you’ll be caught up in an actual attack. Unless you’re told otherwise, you should go about business as usual and not be intimidated.

At the same time, though, it’s important not to become complacent.

You should always remain alert, look out for suspicious abandoned bags on public transport or in other crowded places. Make sure that you let the police know if you see any signs of terrorist activity.

What to do if an attack is underway

If you're at the scene of a terrorist bomb or other attack, it is crucial that you do what the emergency services tell you to.

If an attack happens and no emergency services have been called, dial 999 immediately.

If you're not at the scene but feel you or someone you know may be affected: Go in, Stay in and Tune in. Go indoors, stay there, and tune in to local radio and TV, which will give information and advice.

Reporting suspected terrorism

If you suspect somebody you know may be involved in terrorism in any way, you should report it to people who can help.

You can:

  • call 999 in an emergency
  • call the police counter-terrorism hotline on 0800 789 321
  • contact the Security Service (MI5) directly through their website

You can remain anonymous, and you may save lives.

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