What is the UK terror threat level, what’s the difference between severe and critical and when was it last changed?


BRITAIN’S official terror threat level was raised to “critical” following the Parsons Green bomb attack in September but was later downgraded back to “severe”.

Here is the latest on the terror threat level and what the different classifications mean.

 Victims suffered facial burns in the Parsons Green bomb attack on Friday September 15

Victims suffered facial burns in the Parsons Green bomb attack on Friday September 15

What is the current UK terror threat level?

The current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is “severe”, which means an attack is “highly likely”.

There are five threat levels, decided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of an attack.

The UK’s threat level was upgraded from “severe” to “critical” on May 23 following the Manchester Arena bombing the previous day.

Theresa May enacted the controversial measures of Operation Temperer amid the heightened alert, with troops deployed on the streets of Britain.

In addition, 27 major trauma centres across the UK were prepared in case of an incident over the following Bank Holiday weekend.

It was later put back down to severe.

But this only lasted until Friday 15 September, when in the hours after the Parsons Green tube bombing the threat level reached critical — meaning an attack was expected imminently.

That weekend two arrests were made — a 21-year-old Syrian refugee and an unnamed 18-year-old, who is believed to be an Iraqi.

The threat level was then put back down to severe.

What do the threat levels mean?

Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack.

  • LOW means an attack is unlikely.
  • MODERATE means an attack is possible, but not likely
  • SUBSTANTIAL means an attack is a strong possibility
  • SEVERE means an attack is highly likely
  • CRITICAL means an attack is expected imminently

TERROR ATTACK LATEST Get live updates on the Parsons Green Tube station explosion and commuter chaos

What happened at Parsons Green?

An explosion rocked a District Line train at Parsons Green at 8.20am on Friday, September 15.

Passengers suffered facial burns after the incident inside the carriage as it was sat at the overground station.

Thirty people were injured as a result of the explosion.

Police said a device – reported to be a Mother of Satan bomb – was placed inside a Lidl bag and left by the tube carriage door before exploding towards the rear of the train, filling the carriage with smoke.

Passengers were seen “running and screaming” from the tracks.

Many were trampled on as they tried to make their escape down from the elevated platform.

Following the attack, Theresa May described the terrorist as a “coward” and also criticised Donald Trump for his tweets in the immediate aftermath.

What happened in the London Bridge attack?

Three terrorists wearing stab-proof vests drove a van into pedestrians at 50mph on London Bridge before attacking revellers with hunting knives.

Seven people have died and at least 48 have been left wounded following the 10:08pm attack. Staff at a packed pub locked the doors as the gang tried to smash their way in. One man was stabbed five times.

Assistant Commissioner of Met Police Mark Rowley confirmed that all three of the depraved attackers were shot and killed within eight minutes of the first call to emergency services.

 A Hertz van with B&Q branding was used in the London Bridge attack

A Hertz van with B&Q branding was used in the London Bridge attack

What happened at the Manchester Arena?

A bomb exploded in the foyer of Manchester Arena moments after US pop star Ariana Grande left the stage on May 22.

Witnesses told how nuts and bolts were sent flying in the blast as fans made their way to Manchester Victoria train station next door.

At least 59 fans were injured and 22 lost their lives, including many children, in the attack carried out by 22-year-old Salman Abedi.

 The Manchester bomber Salman Abedi

The Manchester bomber Salman Abedi

The bomber’s brothers and father were among those arrested as cops hunted a possibile terror network connected to the atrocity.

In the aftermath of the shocking attack, spooks revealed that five terror plots had been thwarted in the two months between the Westminster and Manchester attacks.

Since 2013, 18 plots have been prevented by counter terrorism and intelligence agencies in Britain.

PA:Press Association

What happened in the Westminster terror attack and how many people died?

Khalid Masood, 52, was responsible for murdering five people including a police officer outside Westminster on Wednesday March 22.

Armed with two large knives, he mowed down pedestrians with a rented car on Westminster Bridge.

He then crashed into a gate outside the Houses of Parliament before fatally stabbing police officer PC Keith Palmer, aged 48.

His murderous rampage came to an end when he was shot dead by police.

What should you do if you have info on a terror attack?

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 MI5.

PM Theresa May increases UK threat level to critical following Manchester terror attack by Salman Abedi

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