UK raises terror threat level in response to recent attacks in Europe

The UK’s terror threat level has been raised from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’ in response to recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Nov 3, 2020
By Tony Thompson
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has changed the UK terror threat level from substantial to severe. This is a precautionary measure and is not based on any specific threat.

“The public should continue to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.”

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, UK head of Counter Terrorism Policing said: “Overnight, we heard the terrible news of another terrorist attack in Europe – this time in Vienna, where four people were killed.

“Our thoughts are with all of the victims, their families and loved ones of the recent attacks both in Austria and France, as well as all of the emergency service personnel who continue to respond to and investigate these atrocities.

“At this time, there is no intelligence to link any of these attacks to the UK, and officers from Counter Terrorism Policing continue to work closely with our international partners and will of course provide any assistance where we can.

“Today, the threat level from terrorism has changed from substantial to severe as a precautionary measure in response to the events in France and Austria. This threat level moving to severe means it is highly likely that a terrorist attack could happen in the UK, but I want to stress that the change is not based on a specific threat.

“Since 2014, when the threat level was last changed from substantial to severe, we have continued to build on our capability and enhance security arrangements against the backdrop of a consistently high level of threat. Officers work day and night to protect the public and keep them safe from the threat of terrorism and this will not change.

“We have activated the established planning mechanisms across the police service, which will lead to enhanced protection and preparedness.

“Some of this will be visible and involve additional police officers being deployed to certain places and locations, which the public can expect to see over the coming days.

“From this afternoon we will begin to increase our levels of visible patrols and implement other security and protection measures.

“We are also working closely with our local communities – businesses, faith groups and community groups across the UK to provide reassurance and seek their support and assistance in keeping the UK safe.

“As I have previously said, our efforts can only succeed where we have the support of the public – it is communities standing together that defeats terrorism.”

There are five levels of threat:

  • 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; and
  • Critical – an attack is highly likely in the near future.

Threat levels do not have an expiry date. They can change at any time as different information becomes available to security agents.
The threat level was lowered from severe to substantial in November 2019.

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