The official level of the terrorist threat to Britain was made public for the first time yesterday.
The current state of alert was published first on a new Government website - www.intelligence.gov.uk - explaining the role of the "intelligence community".
As already indicated by Home Secretary John Reid, the threat level was given as "severe", with a link to a web page explaining the new terror threat system. The information later appeared on the MI5 website - www.mi5.gov.uk - and was also due to feature on the Home Office's home page at www.homeoffice.gov.uk.
The official system has been simplified from seven levels of alert to five. The five levels are: low, moderate, substantial, severe and critical. "Severe" means an attack is "highly likely".
The new version merges previous categories of "severe general" and "severe defined" into a single "severe" grade. And, tellingly, it eliminates the previous lowest category of "negligible". Under the previous system, the national threat level had been set at "severe general" since August 2005.
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "We welcome this new public system of alert and threat levels. We have been calling for this for some time."