Counter terrorism

The Government’s counter terrorism strategy, CONTEST, aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting extremism. It addresses all forms of terrorism but continues to prioritise according to the threat posed to national security.

It has four key strands, known as the 4 P’s:

  • pursue: stopping terrorist attacks
  • protect: strengthening protection against terrorist attacks
  • prepare: where an attack cannot be stopped, mitigating its impact
  • prevent: stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting violent extremism.

Current threat level

Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack. There are 5 levels of threat:

  • low: an attack is unlikely
  • moderate: an attack is possible but not likely
  • substantial: an attack is a strong possibility
  • severe: an attack is highly likely
  • critical: an attack is expected imminently.

The level is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the Security Service (MI5). Threat levels don’t have an expiry date; they can change at any time as different information becomes available to security agents.

The current threat from terrorism can be viewed on the MI5 website.

What you can do to help

Threat levels in themselves do not require specific responses from the public. Sharing national threat levels with the general public keeps everyone informed. It explains the context for the various security measures (for example airport security or bag searches) which we may encounter in our daily lives.

The police and the security and intelligence agencies depend on information from the public. You should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and can help to keep yourself, your family and your local community safe by reporting any suspicious activity.

If anything gives you cause for concern, do not rely on someone else – ACT.

Find out about what kind of activity and behaviour you should report on the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) website.

If you have any information about unusual activity or behaviour, you can report it in confidence:

  • if you think a threat is imminent call the police on 999
  • call the police confidentially on anti-terrorist hotline 0800 789 321
  • report your concerns to

Online material

You can also report illegal or harmful information, pictures or videos you’ve found on the internet such as:

  • articles, images, speeches or videos that promote terrorism or encourage violence
  • content encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism
  • websites made by terrorist or extremist organisations
  • videos of terrorist attacks.

Run Hide Tell

In the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack:

  • Run to a place of safety - this is a better option than to surrender or negotiate
  • Hide and remember to turn your phone to silent and turn off vibrate. Barricade yourself in if you can
  • Tell the police by calling 999 when it is safe to do so.

Police have released a video telling people to “run, hide, tell” if they are caught up in a terrorist gun attack. The 4 minute video advises on how to evacuate a building, where to hide, and what information to tell police.

Please take a moment to watch this video. If you are caught up in an attack, it could save your life.