emergency is defined as: “An exceptional event that exceeds the capacity of
normal resources and organization to cope with it” (Alexander, 2002).
Emergency planning is
presently a legal requirement at national, regional, and local levels and the
primary aim is to reduce the risk to life and limb posed by actual and
potential incidents. Secondary aim
involves reducing damage, ensuring public safety during the aftermath of
disaster, and caring for survivors and the disadvantaged (Alexander, 2002).
This report examines
the resilience of United Kingdom (UK) to emergency management. It reviews the various emergencies in the UK,
problems affecting the UK resilience, the history of disasters facing the UK,
the process of emergency management development of the country, the country’s
current structure of emergency management system and, past and future
CONTINGENCIES ACT 2004
The Act was
introduced after the foot and mouth outbreak, 2001 and the severe flooding,
2000. It introduced a single framework
for civil protection in the UK that led to the updating of former Civil Defence
Act, 1948 and Emergency Power Act, 1920.
The CCA is composed of two parts:
1 defines clear set goals, guidance, responsibilities and regulations for all
local responders. Part 2 allows the
making of emergency powers to help deal with major emergencies.
The local responders based on their
specific roles and duties are divided into two categories:
Category 1 services at the centre of the
emergency (Police, Fire, Ambulance, and Local Authorities). Category 2 work as cooperating bodies (Health
and Safety Executive (HSE), Utility Companies, Voluntary Agencies, and
Transport Operators). Part 2 updates the
Emergency Power Act (1920) and focuses on most serious emergencies and future
1 responders are subject to civil protection and are required to put in place
business continuity management arrangements, share information with other local
responders to enhance coordination and put in place emergency plans (Cabinet
Local Resilience Forums (LRF’s) are a cross-government of work managed by the
cabinet office. They plan and prepare
for localised emergencies. They cover each local resilience geographical area
based on police areas with and their membership can be altered by the Ministers
(Local Resilience Forums, 2013).
An emergency is
defined by the CCA as, “an event or situation which threatens serious damage to
human welfare, the environment; or security in the UK” (Cabinet office, 2004).
powers cannot be applied to criminal procedures, industrial action, and new
offences. They are compatible with the Human Rights Act and European Union law.
‘Triple lock’ in the legislation ensures emergency powers are not misused They
need parliamentary approval within seven days, amendments to existing
legislation last up to 21 days and emergency regulations last for thirty days
maximum (The Guardian, 2009).
protection is largely devolved to Scotland.
The Scottish and UK Ministers must consult each other when exercising
their legislative powers under Part 1.
In Northern Ireland it only applies to non-devolved functions such as
the Coastguard Agency (Cabinet Office, 2004).
Members of Parliament (MPs) criticised the Act
was lacking sufficient safeguards and sanctions additionally; Tony Bunyan of
Sate watch described the Act as truly draconian and could be used by government
with malign intention (The Guardian, 2009).
3: INTEGRATED EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND
Integrated Emergency Management main
elements are anticipation, preparedness, subsidiary, direction, information,
integration, co-operation, and continuity.
The key principle is clear identification of roles and responsibilities
Interoperability Programme (JESIP), 2012-2014 principles were; Co-locate,
communicate, co-ordinate, jointly understand risk, and shared institutional awareness. Its checklist tool was METHANE (Major
incident declared, Exact location, Type of incident, Hazards, Access,
Number/type/severity, Emergency services).
JESIP’s joint decision model was for the Police, Fire and Rescue, and
Ambulance services to work together and to be used by commanders to make
effective decisions, reconcile and collate information (JESIP, 2017).
Incident Command System
is the procedures adopted by each of the emergency services in response to a
major incident (LESLP, 2012).
The London Bombings of
July 2005: A series of suicide bomb attacks on London’s public transport system
during the rush hour. 52 people killed
and more than 700 were injured. The
bombings highlighted the need for an effective emergency management system
(London Assembly, 2006).
The Floods of
2007: More than 56,000 properties were
flooded. 7000 people were rescued, 13
people died. Half a million people were
left without water mains and electricity.
Better public preparation, national flooding exercise and restriction of
building on flood plains was needed (Pitt, 2008).
The Grenfell Tower Fire
of June 2017: A fire started on the
4th floor of a twenty four- storey building in the borough of
Kensington and Chelsea. Sixty five
people were rescued and at least eighty died.
Forty six victims were identified. The main cause of the fire was identified
by fire safety experts as the cladding (The Guardian, 2017).
5: UK RESILIENCE
Historically over- focused on defence of
attack by rival power. There was no
legislative requirement to plan and the central government felt confident to
let local agencies deal with, and manage possible emergencies. Organisations were overly hierarchical which
created a conflict of interest (Rockett, 2000).
After the war the UK
government has focused on security of critical infrastructure from manmade
attacks. The millennium bug experience
raised the need for structure in the management of disasters at local level and
flood events and the fuel crisis, 2000 led to the review of emergency
management system that was implemented by the Home Office (O’Brien & Read,
In 2005, the government
used the term ‘Resilience’ to work towards disaster response, mitigation and
preparedness and was led by the Cabinet Office.
The approach raised questions on the government’s ability to regulate
new disasters through the legislative framework. O’Brien & Read (2005) viewed the problems
of UK’s future emergency management being climate change, drugs, novel
technologies, and modified organisms.
They suggested there is need for sufficient resources to deliver UK
O’Brien (2008) argued the institutional focus
on emergencies as insufficient response in major incidents and the need for a
holistic approach of adaption to climate change, and societal preparedness.
This report has
established ‘Resilience’ will need to be; realised in the infrastructure and
societal preparedness to ensure an effective emergency management from new
possible disasters, adaptation to climate change, and knowledge of physical and
The UK still has improvements to be made
in its Integrated Emergency Management, Incident Command, Preparedness, and
Resilience. However, UK emergency
planning has incorporated environmental elements and broadened the definition