MI5 - Security Service

Threat Levels

Members of the public should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and report any suspicious activity to the police on 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline: 0800 789 321. If your information does not relate to an imminent threat, you can also contact the Security Service via the How You Can Help us page.

Current threat level

The current threat level from international terrorism for the UK is assessed as SUBSTANTIAL.

The threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism is set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). In Northern Ireland it is SEVERE and in Great Britain MODERATE.

SEVERE means that a terrorist attack is highly likely; SUBSTANTIAL that it is a strong possibility; MODERATE that an attack is possible, but unlikely.

Threat Level map NIRT October 2012 Threat Level map key Threat Level map International Terrorism October 2012

See threat level history for previous changes.

See The UK's threat level system for more information on what threat levels mean, who decides the level of threat and how the threat level system is used.

The Government continues to maintain a state of heightened readiness in response to the threat from international terrorism. It remains the Government's policy to issue warnings or advice if this ever became necessary to protect public safety in the event of a specific and credible terrorist threat.

Source and form of the threat

The threat of international terrorism comes from a diverse range of sources, including Al Qaida and associated networks, and those who share Al Qaida's ideology but do not have direct contact with them. A threat could manifest itself from a lone individual or group, rather than a larger network. Domestic terrorism related to Northern Ireland, principally from Republican terrorist groups, also remains a threat.

The terrorist threat can take a number of forms, as terrorists may use a variety of methods of attack to achieve their objectives. These may include explosive devices, firearms, missiles, kidnapping, infiltration and electronic attacks. See the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) opens in a new window website for practical advice on how to defend against these threats.

This page has been produced in consultation with the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC). It will be regularly reviewed and updated. Whilst every care has been taken in preparing this summary, the Security Service accepts no liability for any statement contained therein (see our Content Disclaimer).

Threat level history

24 October 2012

  • Threat level from Northern Ireland-related terrorism lowered to MODERATE for GB and remains at SEVERE for Northern Ireland.
  • Threat from international terrorism remains SUBSTANTIAL (UK-wide)
  • Security Service news announcement

11 July 2011

  • Threat level from international terrorism for the UK is lowered to SUBSTANTIAL
  • Threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism remains SEVERE (NI) and SUBSTANTIAL (GB)
  • Home Office press release opens in a new window

24 September 2010

  • Threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism published for the first time
  • Threat levels: SEVERE (NI) and SUBSTANTIAL (GB), raised from MODERATE (GB)
  • Home Office press release opens in a new window

22 January 2010

20 July 2009

4 July 2007

30 June 2007

13 August 2006

10 August 2006

  • Threat level raised to CRITICAL

1 August 2006

  • Threat level published for the first time.
  • Threat level: SEVERE

Key points

  • Current international terrorism threat level: SUBSTANTIAL (UK-wide)
  • Threat comes principally from Al Qaida and related networks
  • Current Northern Ireland threat level: SEVERE (in NI), MODERATE (in Great Britain)
  • Northern Ireland-related terrorism is still a threat but more so in NI than in GB

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