Government drops terrorism threat level to 'medium'

The Government has dropped the terrorism threat level from "high" to "medium" in a decision announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

It followed a review by the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG), an independent multi-agency group with the primary task of continually assessing New Zealand's threat level. 

The agency defines 'medium' threat level as a terrorist attack that is "assessed as feasible and could well occur" - which is higher than it was before the March 15 Christchurch terror attack. 

"New Zealanders safety is the highest priority for the Government. Following review and peer review of the current threat environment CTAG have concluded this change accurately reflects our current status," Ardern said on Wednesday. 

"While the threat level has been revised to medium, and there is no current specific threat agencies are responding to, people will continue to notice a clear police presence at public events, including on ANZAC Day."

A month on from Christchurch's mosque terror attacks the city remained in a state of high security, as police continued to be armed. Earlier this week, police commissioner Mike Bush said the threat level was being reviewed almost daily. 

Ardern said Government organisations, including police, are required to assess their own security settings and "ensure they are appropriate when there's a change to the National Terrorism Threat Level". 

"Behind the scene there remains an extensive cross-agency response to counter any potential threats," she said, including the police and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS). 

She said those agencies "continue to work hard to understand, mitigate and manage threats and I am receiving regular briefings on that work".

I'm very heartened that people have been doing this since the Christchurch attack, while also continuing to show their support and solidarity with the Muslim community across the country."

The way the CTAG sets New Zealand's National Terrorism Threat Level is by using a wide range of intelligence and information to analyse the intent and capability of potential risks. 

Similar groups in Australia, Canada, and the UK are responsible for setting their respective national terrorism threat levels. However, their threat language and frameworks differ, according to the Government. 

The agencies that contribute to CTAG include:

  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
  • Government Communications Security Bureau
  • New Zealand Defence Force
  • Civil Aviation Authority/Aviation Security Service
  • New Zealand Police
  • Department of Corrections
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade