Thursday 18 January 2018

Official terror threat level raised to critical after Manchester terror attack

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media after chairing a meeting of the Governments emergency COBRA committee at Downing Street
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media after chairing a meeting of the Governments emergency COBRA committee at Downing Street

Hayden Smith

Theresa May has announced that the official terror threat level is being raised to critical, the highest level, in the wake of the Manchester attack.

What does that mean?

That authorities believe an attack may be "imminent".

Is this an unusual step?

Yes - though not unprecedented. It is the first time the assessment has been placed at the highest level for a decade.

It has only been at critical twice in nearly 11 years, in August 2006 and June 2007. On both occasions the assessment was lowered after a few days.

An injured woman is helped out of the Manchester Arena after last night’s blast at a gig by Ariana Grande, which left 19 dead
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena after the explosion.
Concert goers wait to be picked up at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester
A tweet from U.S. singer Ariana Grande is seen as she makes her first comment since a bombing at her concert in Manchester
Armed police man roadblocks outside the arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: PA
A police officer escorts people near the Manchester Arena
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Emergency services at the scene. Photo: PA
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
An armoured police Land Rover drives away from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Still image taken from video shows a street scene near Manchester Arena after the blast
Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena

At what level had it been prior to this announcement?

Severe - the second highest - which indicates an attack was deemed to be "highly likely".

How long had the threat level been at severe before this change?

Nearly three years - it was raised from substantial in August 2014 after the rise of Islamic State.

How has the threat changed over the years?

The level was first made public in 2006. Since then, it has most often been at severe, and not been lower than substantial (an attack is a strong possibility).

How many levels are there?

Five. The other two levels are moderate (an attack is possible but not likely), and low (an attack is unlikely).

Who decides the threat level?

An organisation called the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. It was established in June 2003 and is based at MI5's London headquarters.

JTAC comprises representatives from 16 government departments and agencies.

How is a judgment reached on the threat level?

A number of factors may be taken into account, including available intelligence, terrorist capability, terrorist intentions and timescale.

Press Association

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