Terrorism in the UK – Are We Safe from a Terrorist Attack?
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Written by regionadmin

17th March 2022

There have been several terrorist incidents in the UK in the past 50 years. With 292 incidents occurring in 1972, 274 in 1992 and 113 in 2013.

We can see there has been an overall decrease of incidents of terrorism over time, with some spikes occurring in the data. This is due to an increased awareness of the threat as well as governments across the world investing more resources into counter terrorism measures and security.

It is still something that effects our day to day lives and is always a risk. So, what are we doing to stay as safe as possible?

Is London Safe from Terrorism?

While terror attacks have occurred in London over the past 20 years, the London bus attack in 2005, and the London bridge attack in 2017. Statistically the odds of a terrorist attack are very low. You are no more vulnerable in London than you would be in any other city in the world.

Preparedness for acts of terrorism is something that is always being assessed and looked to be improved upon. This is no different for London. As recently as 2021 a report was made to see what could be done to make everyone safer from this threat.

Police in the area can be deployed in extra numbers, as well as firearms specialists in times of increased risk. This can include key areas of London’s network such as transport hubs, shopping areas and other crowded locations.

The UK Terror Threat Level

The UK government regularly updates the national threat level whenever it is needed. It is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and MI5, taking into consideration multiple factors in its calculation. There are 5 different levels of threat that are used:

  • Low – an attack is highly unlikely
  • Moderate – an attack is possible but not likely
  • Substantial – an attack is likely
  • Severe – an attack is highly likely
  • Critical – an attack is highly likely in the near future

It is always broadcast across national news whenever there is a change in the level of threat, it is always good to check to make sure you are as aware as possible, especially whenever you are travelling to a different part of the country.

What are the Signs of Terrorism?

We should always be vigilant to the signs of potential terror threats. As communities we can help prevent incidents from occurring. There are multiple different things to be on the lookout for:

  • Travelling frequently but being vague about the destination and reasoning
  • If someone has multiple passports under different names
  • If someone looks for and shares extremist material online
  • They promote extremist and hateful ideas
  • They receive large deliveries of chemicals and fertilisers for no obvious reason
  • Someone tries to acquire firearms
  • Unusual and suspicious bank transactions

These are things that the public can spot across all walks of life. Whether you work for a delivery company or work at a bank. These are signs you should be looking out for.

How to Report Terrorism in the UK

The public are just as important in countering terror threats as the services put in place by the government. While it may not seem as significant as law enforcement, we are always encouraged to be vigilant for suspicious behaviour and potential risks.

  • Call the Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321.
  • Fill out the Terrorist Activity form
  • If you suspect immediate danger, call 999

Any information that is passed on to the authorities is treated in the strictest confidence. Even if what you have seen or heard turns out to be incorrect, there are a team of highly trained officers who can investigate it.

The government are actively encouraging communities to help identify and report signs of terrorist activity and radicalisation through the use of their ACT campaign.

Staying Safe During a Terror Attack

While the chances of finding yourself the victim of a terrorist attack are small, it can still happen. There are several things you can do to increase your survival rate during a terrorist incident.

If you hear gunshots or an active shooter:

  • Run – to a place of safety. This is better than trying to surrender or negotiate.
  • Hide – it is better to hide than confront. Barricade yourself in, turn your phone to silent and use only when it is safe to do so.
  • Tell – Ensure that you know the emergency numbers for the area you are in, make note of them beforehand if it’s somewhere you’re travelling to.

In the event of a bomb or explosion:


  • Leave the area immediately
  • Follow any evacuation guidelines
  • Protect yourself from falling debris
  • Stay away from windows
  • Go to an open area away from any tall buildings
  • Avoid crowds as they can be targeted for a secondary attack

How are We Kept Safe From Terrorism in the UK?

The government has several strategies and policies in place when it comes to combating the threat of terrorism in the UK.

Terrorism Act 2000

The Terrorism Act contains all the relevant information on the extended authority law enforcement have when it comes to terror suspects. This includes suspects being able to be arrested without the need for a warrant and detained for a maximum of 14 days for questioning.

The Counter Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2021

A new sentence was introduced for serious terrorism offenses with a minimum sentence of 14 years’ custody and an extension period to be served on licence, between seven and 25 years.

In the year ending September 2021, 62 people were tried for terrorism offences, with 58 of them being convicted.

Counter Terrorism Police

The Counter Terrorism Police was originally founded in 1971 in some form as the Specialist Operations Branch of the Metropolitan Police.

This was a response to the Angry Brigade and the attacks they were carrying out at the time. It has changed and adapted over time to the force we know today after it was merged with the anti-terrorist branch in 2006 to form SO15.

They are experts at investigations, using surveillance and forensics to develop intelligence and identify potential threats, both domestic and across the world. Using tactics such as Project Servator to disrupt potential acts of terrorism and promote awareness within the community.

Final Thoughts

Statistically we are not at a higher or lower risk than anywhere else in the world of becoming a victim of terrorism.

There are a lot of things we can do within our communities to help keep us safe, that go hand in hand with government initiatives. Staying vigilant is a key aspect of safety when it comes to the threat of terrorism and something we can all play a role in.

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