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UK’s terror threat level downgraded but attacks still ‘likely’

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the risk of an attack is ‘likely’ rather than ‘highly likely’.

UK’s threat level has been downgraded (Peter Byrne/PA)
UK’s threat level has been downgraded (Peter Byrne/PA)

By Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent

The UK’s terrorism threat level has been downgraded but the risk of an attack is still “likely”, the Home Secretary has announced.

It was lowered to “substantial” from “severe”, so attacks are no longer “highly likely”, Priti Patel said.

The decision was announced in a written ministerial statement to Parliament on Monday.

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The downgrade was announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel (AP)

In it, she said: “Despite the change in the threat level, terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our national security.

“Substantial continues to indicate a high level of threat; and an attack might well occur without further warning.

“As ever, the public should remain vigilant and report any concerns they may have to the police.

“Government, police and intelligence agencies will continue to work tirelessly to address the threat posed by terrorism in all its forms.

“The threat level is kept under constant review.”

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), an organisation made up of government departments and other public bodies which reports to MI5, makes the decision on the threat level independently of Government ministers, after weighing up intelligence and known terrorist groups.

A review is carried out every six months.

The level was raised to “critical” in May 2017 after the Manchester Arena bombing and later downgraded to “severe”, where it has remained since September 2017.

The news comes as the general who oversaw the US raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State group, said the country is on alert for possible “retribution attacks” by extremists.

While Richard Kemp, former head of international terrorism intelligence at the Cabinet Office, reportedly warned said security services would now be “braced for attempts to avenge his death.”

Rafaello Pantucci, a terrorism expert and director at the Royal United Services Institute thinktank, is said to have claimed: “The most immediate concern will be that major terrorism events often prompt actions by copycats or in revenge.”

PA

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