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Terrorist Threat Levels - What Should Property Managers Do?

Terrorist Threat Levels - What Should Property Managers Do?
15 November 2021

As the terrorism threat level is raised to “severe” in the UK after an incident in Liverpool, what actions should commercial property owners and managers take?


What do the UK’s Terrorism Threat Levels Mean?


There are five levels of threat, set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the Security Service (MI5):


  • 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


The UK was last at “severe” in November 2020 before being lowered to “substantial” in February 2021.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “It is important that the public remains alert to the threat from terrorism but not alarmed. I urge anyone with information or who suspects any suspicious activity to report it to the police.

“Threat levels are determined independently of Ministers and are a tool for security practitioners, including the police, to use in determining what protective security response may be required.”

You can find out more about how the threat levels are set, what they mean and when they have changed, by visiting the Security Service webpage.


Set Your Building Response Level


The government provides detailed guidance for security personnel on what to do following a terrorism threat level change, including managing your Building Response Level

A Building Response Level provides a general indication of the protective security measures that should be applied to a property. They are informed by the UK threat level, but also take into account specific assessments of vulnerability and risk.

There are three levels of response: exceptional, heightened and normal. It’s important that threat levels are communicated to staff working inside the building, however, signage should not be displayed in public areas. This is to avoid equipping terrorists with sensitive information.


Make Your Building’s Security Prominent


One of the most effective measures to deter terrorists and wider criminality is a competent security guard force who appear vigilant and proactively engaged with the public. Active and visible patrols could be useful as well as introducing “unpredictable security measures”. As the government advice states:

“Unpredictability results in the uncertainty and erosion of confidence in the mind of the terrorist, who needs to encounter predictable security arrangements in order to feel assured of success. Wherever possible, introduce unpredictability into your security regime; e.g. patrol patterns, timings and search regimes applied.”


Staff Training


Staff should be trained to be vigilant and immediately report suspicious activity and items. Teach them what suspicious activity may look like and encourage them to trust their instincts and report anything suspicious immediately to the security control room/police.

Where possible, highlight examples where previous staff reporting has led to positive outcomes; this helps promote confidence.


Protecting Businesses From Terrorism


The Met Police force offers the following advice:



You can read more about ACT training here.

Picture: a photograph of a rear view of a hi-visibility jacket with the word's "Security" on

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 November 2021


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