What is the UK’s terror threat level? Current national terrorism alert stage and Priti Patel warning explained

The terror alert level has changed after it had been raised to ‘severe’ in Autumn 2021

Priti Patel has reduced the UK’s terror threat level but has waned the public not to get “complacent”. (Credit: Getty)Priti Patel has reduced the UK’s terror threat level but has waned the public not to get “complacent”. (Credit: Getty)
Priti Patel has reduced the UK’s terror threat level but has waned the public not to get “complacent”. (Credit: Getty)

The Home Secretary announced the UK’s terror threat level has been reduced.

The threat level was increased to severe in November following the explosion outside a Liverpool hospital on Remembrance Sunday and the fatal stabbing of Southend West MP Sir David Amess.

Priti Patel made the announcement on Wednesday 9 February that the terror alert level had been reduced, although she also warned the public not to get “complacent”.

The decision to reduce the level comes after an assessment by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC).

What is the UK’s current terror threat level?

The threat level has been officially reduced from “severe” – where an attack is deemed to be highly likely – to “substantial”.

The “substantial” threat level still means a terrorist attack on the UK is likely.

This is the third highest level of the system used to assess the terror threat to the UK.

What did Priti Patel say about the terror threat level?

Ms Patel told MPs that the change in alert level comes after events last autumn.

This included the killing of MP David Amess during a constituency surgery in October 2021 and an explosion outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday.

She said: “JTAC judges that, despite these two attacks, the current nature and scale of the UK terrorist threat is consistent with the level of threat seen prior to the attacks.

“The attacks in October and November 2021 reflect the complex, volatile, and unpredictable nature of the terrorist threat in the UK.”

However, the Home Secretary did warn the public that they should not become “complacent”, with the threat of an attack still “likely”.

She said: “Any reduction in the threat level is positive but it must never make us complacent.

“Terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our national security.

“The public should remain alert, but not alarmed, and report any concerns they may have to the police.”

How does the UK’s terror threat level work?

The UK terror threat level have been in use since 2006 and is used to indicate how likely an attack on the country is during a period of time.

There are a total of five levels:

  • Low - an attack is highly unlikely
  • Moderate - an attack is possible but not likely
  • Substantial - an attack is likely
  • Severe - an attack is highly likely
  • Critical - an attack is highly likely in the near future

Low and moderate levels are met with a “normal” response, including routine protective security.

Substantial and severe levels are dealt with by using “heightened” measures, and a critical level is dealt with by “exceptional” measures, which means that the country would be put under the maximum protective security.

The last time that the UK was at a “critical” threat level was in 2017 after a number of high profile attacks such as the Manchester Arena bombing - which killed 23 people - and the Parsons Green attack, which saw an explosive detonated on the London Underground.

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