In Brief

Terror threat level lowered for first time in two years

Home secretary warns that ‘substantial’ continues to indicate a high level of threat

The UK’s national terror threat level has been downgraded from severe to substantial for the first time in five years, the home secretary revealed yesterday.

Announcing the decision by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) in a statement to parliament, Priti Patel emphasised that “substantial” continues to indicate a high level of threat and an attack might well occur “without further warning”.

Stating that the threat level is kept under “constant review”, she added that: “Government, police and intelligence agencies will continue to work tirelessly to address the threat posed by terrorism in all its forms.”

The country's threat level is determined by the JTAC, which is part of MI5. It makes its recommendations independently from the government. The BBC explains that “substantial” is the third of five ratings at which the threat level can stand.

The five ratings are:

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

Critical - an attack is highly likely in the near future

The terror threat level was raised to “critical" in May 2017 after the Manchester Arena bombing. That attack killed 23 people and left more than 200 injured at an Ariana Grande concert.

The threat was later downgraded to "severe" where it has remained since September 2017.

The Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said: “The reduction to ‘substantial’ indicates positive developments in reducing the threat from terrorism but still means an attack is likely.”

He added that Counter Terrorism Policing has “around 800” live counter-terror investigations nationally, adding: “So it is vital that we all maintain a high level of vigilance and continue to invest in strong protective security measures to deter future attacks.”

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