UK Threat Levels

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The UK Threat Levels are the only one alert states that have been in use since 1 August 2006 by the British government to warn of forms of terrorist activity. Before then a colour-based alert scheme known as BIKINI state was used.[1] The response indicates how government departments and agencies and their staffs should react to each threat level.

Current threat level[edit]

The threat level is currently Severe, which was upgraded to from Substantial on 29 August 2014.[2]

Categories of threat[edit]

Since 24 September 2010, the Home Office has reported three different categories of terrorist threat:[3][4]

  • Threat from international terrorism.
  • Terrorism threat related to Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland itself.
  • Terrorism threat related to Northern Ireland in Great Britain.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) is responsible for setting the threat level from international terrorism and the Security Service (MI5) is responsible for setting both threat levels related to Northern Ireland.[5]

Threat levels[edit]

Threat level Response
Critical An attack is expected imminently.
Maximum protective security measures to meet specific threats and to minimise vulnerability and risk. Critical may also be used if a nuclear attack is expected.
Severe An attack is highly likely.
Additional and sustainable protective security measures reflecting the broad nature of the threat combined with specific business and geographical vulnerabilities and judgements on acceptable risk.
Substantial An attack is a strong possibility.
Moderate An attack is possible, but not likely.
Routine protective security measures appropriate to the business concerned.
Low An attack is unlikely.


UK Threat Level history

The Security Service (MI5) currently maintains a history of threat levels on the services website.

Date Threat level
1 August 2006 Severe
10 August 2006 Critical
13 August 2006 Severe
30 June 2007 Critical
4 July 2007 Severe
20 July 2009 Substantial
22 January 2010 Severe
Date International terrorism Northern Ireland related terrorism
24 September 2010 Severe GB: substantial. NI: severe
11 July 2011 Substantial GB: substantial. NI: severe
24 October 2012 Substantial GB: moderate. NI: severe
29 August 2014 – present Severe GB: moderate. NI: severe

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Threat Levels, July 2006
  2. ^ "Threat Levels". Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Irish terror attack a 'strong possibility'". BBC News. 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  4. ^ "Press Release: Increased risk of Irish-related terrorism". United Kingdom Home Office. 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  5. ^ "Current threat level - Who decides the threat levels?". United Kingdom Home Office. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 

External links[edit]