Memorandum from the Civil Contingencies
Secretariat (9 January 2002)
Since 11 September the Government has been scrutinising
every one of our arrangements for protecting the public.
There is extensive contingency planning in place
in Britain. Experience has shown that emergencies and crises do
not follow departmental boundaries. Hence Government responsibility
for civil contingencies is exercised through a Cabinet Committee,
the Civil Contingencies Committee which has three sub committees.
The CCC draws together the key government departments, the devolved
administrations, the police and the security service. The sub
committees have been carefully constituted to ensure all the relevant
organisations and stakeholders are involved.
The CCC and its sub committees are supported
by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office.
The CCS was set up by the Prime Minister after the General Election
to bring together a range of responsibilities which had previously
been dispersed across a number of different Departments.
Its wider role is to improve the resilience
of Central Government and the UK. Resilience is defined as the
ability to handle disruptive challenges that can lead to, or result
in, crisis. The CCS has co-ordinated the civil contingencies response
in the UK to the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
Those attacks required a fundamental re-examination
of the assumptions underlying our contingency planning arrangements,
at all levels. The CCS is co-ordinating the work now underway
to identify where it is necessary to revise and enhance our arrangements.
CCS resilience work is focused on central government,
London, and the essential elements of the UK's infrastructure.
Its work covers both conventional and unconventional threats.
CCS's tasks are to identify potential crises;
to help departments pre-empt them, or handle them; and to manage
the central co-ordination machinery. For this wider work, the
Head of Secretariat is responsible to the Prime Minister through
the Cabinet Secretary.
The Secretariat's work includes some of the
Home Office's former emergency planning responsibilities, but
goes considerably beyond them. It has five divisions: assessment,
capability management, communication and learning, the national
resilience framework, and programme co-ordination.
The Secretariat was originally due to be fully
operational by early 2002. It is currently concentrating on post-September
11 reviews, but is still on target for full operation.
Assessment division scans the horizon for potential
disruption. It also undertakes specific assessments. This work
will inform the priorities of the Secretariat and its work with
departments and others.
Capability management division will work with
departments facing disruptive challenges. It will advise on how
to prevent or manage crisis; provide knowledge of where to find
expertise, experience and resources; and help with planning when
a challenge or crisis is faced. In the longer term, it will develop
a resilience standard and manage an audit process for Government.
Communication and Learning division includes
the News Co-ordination Centre in the Cabinet Office and the Emergency
Planning College at Easingwold, near York. The News Co-ordination
Centre co-ordinates information for the public during a cross-departmental
emergency. It is also responsible, for example, for the central
source of official information in an emergency at www.co-ordination.gov.uk
The Emergency Planning College was first established
in 1937 as an anti-gas training school. More than 11,000 people
a year now attend various courses on different aspects of emergency
planning. CCS plans to develop its programme as a key means of
driving resilience and best practice across all sectors. Course
directors are expert in their fields and CCS draws on them for
research and advice.
The National Resilience Framework is the division
which works to develop key partnerships between all the communities
of interest that can deliver resilience. These include local authorities,
voluntary agencies, local communities and private sector groupings.
The division is also overseeing the review of emergency planning
in England and Wales launched by the deputy Prime Minister.
Programme co-ordination division provides secretariat
support for CCC and its sub committees; delivers programme and
risk management for the whole of CCS's work; and runs the operations
centre which co-ordinates the work of CCS, particularly during