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The new terror alert system in full


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 14 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 14 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 14 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Terrorist bomb... or notYou may remember from last week that a new terror alerts system is to be introduced in response to the London bombing of 7th July. Clearly, it’s important that the public know the terror level at all times, because if we’d known that it was lowered from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’ just before the attacks then we would’ve been more vigilant. Apparently. No, I don’t understand either.

Anyway, the new system does away with ‘Negligible’, because, durr, we’re always facing the biggest threat we’ve ever faced – otherwise we wouldn’t vote for policies which restrict our everyday lives (like ID cards or House Arrest). They’ve also combined ‘Severe Defined’ and ‘Severe General’ into ‘Severe’, because we can never be sure whether we’ve received intelligence about an attack anyway until after the attack takes place. And no-one really knows whether the intelligence is ‘patchy’ or ‘clear and authoritative’ anyway.

So how will the new system work? Well, I reckon the levels of threat will be determined much like this:

  • Low: Oh my god, there’s a terrorist with a big nuclear bomb sat with a detonator in the centre of London. Best not panic the public, let’s keep the alert level down.
  • Moderate: Hmm, some planes seem to be heading off course and towards some tall public buildings. Probably not worth calming the public completely, they might not accept draconian control measures, but let’s reassure them a bit.
  • Substantial: The Daily Mail, that most reliable intelligence source, says someone who once passed Prince Charles’s butler’s cousin twice removed on Oxford Street made a comment that the Monarchy should be abolished! Clearly a terrorist plotting to kill the Queen!
  • Severe: Someone seen calmly walking into a tube station wearing a light denim jacket. Shoot!
  • Critical: Save our good Christian souls, a Muslim family has moved into a quaint village in Middle England! We don’t want those people here! Deport them!

So there you go! In fact, the official definitions are worse:

  • Low: “An attack is unlikely”
    Which presumably means it’s not likely, but it is possible. See also ‘moderate’.
  • Moderate: “An attack is possible but not likely”
    Which presumably means an attack is, erm, unlikely. See also ‘low’.
  • Substantial: “Strong possibility of an attack”
    Presumably meaning an attack is quite likely. See also ‘severe’.
  • Severe: “An attack is highly likely”
    Or, there is a strong possibility of an attack. See also ‘substantial’.
  • Critical: “An attack is expected imminently”
    But we’re not going to tell you where or when. Bwwaaaahaahaaa!

I feel safer already!

This 905th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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10th August 2006.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » Terror plot foiled?

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