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12/04/2011
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Current threat level

The current threat level from international terrorism is Severe

This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely.

Terrorism related to Northern Ireland

The threat level for terrorism related to Northern Ireland is set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain:

In Northern Ireland it is Severe

This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely.

In Great Britain it is Substantial

This means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility.

What are threat levels?

The system of threat levels has been created to keep you informed about the level of threat the UK faces from terrorism at any given time. This system helps police and other law enforcement agencies decide how to allocate staff. The threat level represents the likelihood of an attack in the near future.

The threat levels

There are five levels of threat:

  • 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

Who decides the threat levels?

The Security Service (MI5) (new window) is responsible for setting the threat level from terrorism related to Northern Ireland, both in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) (new window) is responsible for setting the threat level from international terrorism.

To do this, they consider information gathered through intelligence in the UK and abroad. They also consider how terrorist organisations have behaved in the past.

In some cases, counter-terrorism officials have to use their best judgement when deciding just how close a terrorist group might be to staging an attack. Threat levels do not have an expiry date, and can be revised at any time as the information available to security agents' changes.

What should you do?

You should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism, look out for suspicious bags on public transport or any other potential signs of terrorist activity you may encounter.

But you should not let the fear of terrorism stop you from going about your day-to-day life as normal. Your risk of being caught up in a terrorist attack is very low.

The threat levels abroad

For information on the threats abroad, travellers or British nationals overseas should consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (new window) website for country-specific advice.

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