Memorandum from West Yorkshire Police
(as lead for Regional Resilience Yorkshire and Humber Region)
The response of West Yorkshire Police is structured
approximately in accordance with the format of suggested questions
contained within the draft bill. There are however a number of
areas where additional comments are required.
I do not seek to pass comment on those parts
of the bill which relate solely to Scotland, Wales or Northern
Q1. The lack of precise definitions within
this part of the bill causes some concern. The proposed common
definition of "emergency" is exceptionally wide ranging
and leads to the conclusion that almost any incident or chain
of events could lead to its applicationespecially as the
term "serious" remains undefined. As drafted the definition
would cover the activities of many criminal groups especially
those involved in large frauds or involving large scale financial
transactions. The recently reported raids in London involving
Colombian drug traffickers and the seizure of 4.4 billion pounds
in bonds are good examples of criminal activity that can have
a major impact on the economy. If criminal activity is intended
to be included the bill should say so. If not the definition needs
to be considerably tightened.
It is the experience of the police service that
the criminal activity and terrorism are often intimately inter-related.
Page 13, paragraphs 8 and 9I cannot support
the contention that actions taken to prevent a terrorist attack
are not "Civil Protection" as herein defined. The reason
why they should fall outside the definition are not explained.
The differentiation between "Civil Protection"
and "Public Protection" seems to have been arbitrarily
drawn, and would have little meaning for ordinary citizens. In
common parlance the terms civil and public are practically interchangeable.
Q3. The decision to exclude the Military from
the list of Category 1 responders (or category 2) is incorrect.
Over the last decade the armed services have consistently proved
their vital role in public protection. Recent involvement in tackling
Foot and Mouth Disease, floods and "Operation Fresco"
have demonstrated that they have the staff and resources to respond
to almost any challenge in a flexible and effective way. The explanatory
notes describe how the definition of "Emergency" includes
war or armed conflict, and yet the Military are curiously omitted
from the list of responders. It is noted that the Armed Forces
are expected to support the activities of the RRF.
It is my view that in the event of a local or
national emergency current Health and Safety legislation should
be suspended until the crisis is resolved. Responding to novel
and dangerous challenges places an enormous burden upon police
management. The expectation that the police will always be able
to protect the public without incurring some measure of risk to
our own staff is unsupportable. I do however believe that the
HSE are correctly included as Category 2 responders.
The bill makes no reference to the Special Constabulary.
Whilst they are a "voluntary organisation" they are
also an increasingly significant proportion of police resources.
Furthermore the "voluntary" nature of their working
arrangements might become one of the issues addressed in emergency
regulations following a significant disruptive challenge. They
could conceivably be called upon to serve much as members of the
Territorial Army do in times of military conflict.
Q4. No comment.
Q5. I support the creation of Local Resilience
Forums but feel that the concept has been poorly outlined. The
relationship with the Regional Resilience Forums needs to be better
defined. If these are not to become an additional tier of influence,
what are they to replace? If the drafters of this legislation
had a particular model in mind they should describe it.
Paragraph 5 makes an undefined reference to
"community partnership". What does this mean? How will
the LRFs relate to local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships?
Is it anticipated that the partnerships will be represented on
the LRFs? If "local civil protection must be brought firmly
into the mainstream of local public service delivery" (page
16, paragraph 5) how can this be achieved without the support
of CDRPs? Public involvement and co-operation is clearly envisioned
in the delivery of Civil Protection, but the means by which it
will be achieved are vague.
What level of information is expected to be
available to members of responder organisations? Will the members
be vetted? Who will fund the vetting process?
The statements in paragraph 29 (page 19) are
inconsistent with the idea of a ministerially chaired response
to a specific disruptive challenge.
Q6, Q7 and Q8. I do not believe the Regulatory
Impact Assessment accurately reflects the costs of the proposals
in the Bill. If the Secretary of State is to prescribe the nature
and content of Civil Protection Plans, then they should provide
adequate funding or at least direct resources. If the government
proposes to "use guidance with a view to ensuring consistency
of approach" (page 19, paragraph 21) it must be prepared
to fund delivery.
There are issues of transparency to be addressed
in respect of funding. Hypothecated funds ensure that money goes
where it is intended, and I favour the retention of the Civil
Q9. Performance should be monitored through
existing mechanisms. HMIC has the experience and facilities to
carry out any necessary reviews. It would be surprising if Her
Majesties Fire Service Inspectorate were unable to provide a parallel
service. Local Authority provision should be audited by regional
Q10. The proposals fail to address the constitutional
position of chief constables. For many kinds of emergency it is
hard to imagine how anyone other than a chief constable could
provide adequate leadership. However no chief constable is currently
able to direct the activities of another. If it is intended that
they should do so this must specifically and overtly addressed.
I believe that individuals should be identified in advance. I
favour the idea of a "Regional Police Commander Designate",
and a similar person for the Fire Service.
If the RNC for any specific situation is not
a chief constable (such as in the case of an outbreak of SARS)
than consideration needs to be given to the inability of the RNC
to direct police activity. If a directional role is intended,
this must be clearly stated in the ensuing act.
Q11. Agreed. The special legislative measures
should include the suspension of Health and Safety Legislation
for responder agencies and clearly defined powers to enforce police
cordonsincluding the power to detain persons within an
I do not perceive the need for a separate Regional
Civil Contingencies Committee and do not see why the RRF should
have no role in response to an emergency. As the membership of
the two bodies would be essentially the same I favour co-opting
members from appropriate additional partner agencies to deal with
Q13. The definition should be extended to
make specific reference to criminal activity. There is a continual
overlap in the activities of criminal, terrorist and subversive
Q16. Agreedin the event of a significant
disruptive challenge a speedy response to events will be crucially
The three guiding principles laid out in paragraph
19 are illogical. A far more coherent and defensible basis for
determining the need for emergency powers is already contained
within the 6 principles underpinning the European Convention on
Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998;
Legality: Is there a clear legal
basis for an agencies' actions? (Actions of public authorities
must have a clear basis in law).
Proportionality: Can the agency demonstrate
that actions taken were "proportionate" to the threat
or problem which they are seeking to prevent?
Relevance and necessity: Was the
agencies' action strictly relevant to the particular threat/problem?
Subsidiarity: Was the agencies' action
the least "intrusive" available?
Equality of arms: In any trial process
did the defendant have the same information and access to information
as the police/prosecution?
Remedy: Is there an independent public
remedy, independent from the agency, available to the citizen
to hold the agencies' officers to account for their use of legal
As the use of any emergency powers created under
the new act will be subject to challenge if they are in breach
of the ECHR principles it follows that the principles provide
an appropriate validation to prevent possible misuse (paragraph
19). The suggested "triple lock" is over complicating
the process of creating necessary powers.
The proposal to limit the territorial extent
of the new powers where appropriate is confounded by the differing
geographic areas of the main agencies involved. Police, Fire,
Military and Regional Governments all observe very different boundaries,
and this may need to be addressed.
Overall the creation of a single framework for
civil protection in the United Kingdom is to be applauded. The
current framework is disjointed in places and the Bill should
help to ensure consistency of approach and outcome. It is to be
hoped that the capabilities programme will target increased investment
in the activities which underpin the response to emergencies.
One area which urgently demands attention is the provision of
additional funding to enable police forces to train and equip
their officers to respond to a CBRN incident or attack.
The role of central government in preparing
for and dealing with emergencies has needed enhancement. It needs
to be able to respond effectively, co-ordinating where necessary
and making central government resources available where required
to tackle the most serious emergencies. The legislative tools
available to Government to deal with the most serious challenges
must be modernised to provide for greater flexibility, proportionality,
deployability and robustness. Subject only to the limited suggestions
I have made for changes this bill has my support.