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UK threat level system updated to include all forms of terrorism

Changes to the UK’s terrorism threat level system came into effect on Tuesday 23rd July. The changes follow an extensive review into the country’s approach to counter-terrorism following the attacks in 2017, and mean that the system will now reflect the threat posed by all forms of terrorism, irrespective of ideology.

There will now be a single national threat level describing the threat to the UK. However, the threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland will remain separate.

This means, for the first time, the threat from extreme right and left-wing terrorism will be reflected in the published threat level.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) began assessing the threat from all forms of terrorism in November 2018 and the published threat level will now reflect JTAC’s  wider assessment.

The definitions of the LOW, SUBSTANTIAL and CRITICAL threat levels have also changed. The new definitions are as follows:

  • CRITICAL – an attack is highly likely in the near future
  • SEVERE – an attack is highly likely
  • SUBSTANTIAL – an attack is likely
  • MODERATE – an attack is possible but not likely
  • LOW – an attack is highly unlikely.

The level of threat has not changed from SEVERE, meaning an attack is highly likely. JTAC sets the threat level independently of the government.

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