Terrorism and National Emergencies Update
Members of the public should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and report any suspicious activity tot he police on 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321. If your information does not relate to an imminent threat you can also contact MI5.
Current threat from international terrorism
The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is SEVERE
Current threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism
The threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism is set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
The current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland is SEVERE.
The current threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Britain is SUBSTANTIAL.
What the threat levels mean
Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack.
- LOW means an attack is unlikely.
- MODERATE means an attack is possible, but not likely
- SUBSTANTIAL means an attack is a strong possibility
- SEVERE means an attack is highly likely
- CRITICAL means an attack is expected imminently
How are threat levels decided?
The threat level for the UK from international terrorism is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC).
MI5 is responsible for setting the threat levels from Irish and other domestic terrorism both in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain.
In reaching a judgement on the appropriate threat level in any given circumstance several factors need to be taken into account.
- Available intelligence. It is rare that specific threat information is available and can be relied upon. More often, judgements about the threat will be based on a wide range of information, which is often fragmentary, including the level and nature of current terrorist activity, comparison with events in other countries and previous attacks. Intelligence is only ever likely to reveal part of the picture.
- Terrorist capability. An examination of what is known about the capabilities of the terrorists in question and the method they may use based on previous attacks or from intelligence. This would also analyse the potential scale of the attack.
- Terrorist intentions. Using intelligence and publicly available information to examine the overall aims of the terrorists and the ways they may achieve them including what sort of targets they would consider attacking.
- Timescale. The threat level expresses the likelihood of an attack in the near term. We know from past incidents that some attacks take years to plan, while others are put together more quickly. In the absence of specific intelligence, a judgement will need to be made about how close an attack might be to fruition. Threat levels do not have any set expiry date, but are regularly subject to review in order to ensure that they remain current.
How should you respond?
Threat levels in themselves do not require specific responses from the public. They are a tool for security practitioners working across different sectors of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and the police to use in determining what protective security response may be required.
Vigilance is vital regardless of the current national threat level. It is especially important given the current national threat. Sharing national threat levels with the general public keeps everyone informed. It explains the context for the various security measures (for example airport security or bag searches) which we may encounter in our daily lives.
If you have information about possible terrorist activity, call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline: 0800 789 321.
The Anti-Terrorist Hotline is for tip-offs and confidential information. For warnings about possible bombs or other urgent threats please call 999.