The terrorism threat level in the United Kingdom has been raised from “substantial” to “severe.”
According to BBC News, the country upgraded its threat level following an attack in Vienna, Austria, on Monday evening that left four dead and 22 injured. The incident in the central European country earlier this week added to a string of other attacks taking place in the continent. Last week, three people died in a knife attack in Nice, France — as The Inquisitr reported — and last month, a teacher was killed in Paris.
The U.K.’s decision means that national security chiefs believe a terrorist attack is highly likely, although not imminent as it is not based on any specific intelligence data. Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the British people did not need to be alarmed but should be “alert.”
“As I’ve said before, we face a real and serious threat in the U.K. from terrorism,” she explained.
“I would ask the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police.”
“This is a precautionary measure following the horrific events of the last week in France and last night in Austria and is not based on a specific threat,” Patel added, reassuring British citizens by explaining that significant steps were taken to strengthen measures for dealing with possible terrorist activity.
When asked about the work that was taking place to counter the threat level, the home secretary also said the government works in collaboration with intelligence agencies and police forces throughout the United Kingdom to put “preventative measures” in place. She hinted that people can expect to see “more visible policing across the country” in light of the upgraded threat level.
The change to the terror threat level was made by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. The JTAC is part of the U.K.’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency MI5, but carries out its assessments and delivers its recommendations independently from the government. The only threat level above “Severe” is the “Critical” one, in which it is considered that an attack is highly likely in the near future, per the BBC.
The last time the country reached its highest threat level was in September 2017, when a bomb partially exploded on the underground at Parsons Green station. It was then de-escalated to “Severe” for a few months and again downgraded to “Substantial” last November, where it has remained until now.
As the country prepares to enter another month-long nationwide lockdown to tackle the rising surge in coronavirus infections, tensions further escalated following Monday’s attack in the Austrian capital.