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Resilience and Specialist Operations
The world in which we live has changed enormously over the last decade. Disruptive events such as extreme weather, outbreaks of disease such as swine flu and even terrorist attacks are ever present hazards and threats to our way of life.
Following the fuel crisis and the severe flooding in the autumn and winter of 2000 and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001, the Deputy Prime Minister announced a review of emergency planning arrangements. The review included a public consultation exercise which reinforced the Government's conclusion that existing legislation no longer provided an adequate framework for modern civil protection efforts and that new legislation was needed. Following public consultation on a draft Bill from June to September 2003 and prelegislative scrutiny by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, the Civil Contingencies Bill was introduced to Parliament on 7 January 2004. Its development was informed from the start by close consultation with key stakeholders. The Bill received Royal Assent on 18 November 2004 became known as the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (the "Act").
- The Civil Contingencies Act (2004) is the main driver of what we do. At a local level the Act describes category 1 and category 2 responders: Category 1 responders are those organisations at the core of emergency response (e.g. emergency services, local authorities).
- Category 2 responders (e.g. Health and Safety Executive, transport and utility companies) are "co-operating bodies" who while less likely to be involved in the heart of planning work, will be heavily involved in incidents that affect their sector. Category 2 responders have a lesser set of duties - co-operating and sharing relevant information with other Category 1 and 2 responders.
As a category 1 responder, the Trust has certain duties under the Act:
- Assess the risk of emergencies occurring and use this to inform contingency planning;
- Put in place emergency plans;
- Put in place Business Continuity Management arrangements;
- Put in place arrangements to make information available to the public about civil protection matters and maintain arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency;
- Share information with other local responders to enhance co-ordination;
- Co-operate with other local responders to enhance co-ordination and efficiency.
In modernising the legislation it was necessary to introduce a new, updated definition of an emergency which focuses on the risks we face in the 21st century. The definition of emergency in the Act focuses on the consequences of emergencies. It defines an emergency as:
- an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare;
- an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment; or
- war, or terrorism, which threatens serious damage to security.
The key to co-ordinating this activity are the Local Resilience Fora, or LRFs. There are two LRFs within South Central's area.
Each LRF is a multiagency group of category 1 and 2 responders.
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight LRF is chaired by Hampshire Constabulary and has a series of working groups which deliver the LRF's strategic goals.
Similary the Thames Valley LRF is chaired by Thames Valley Police and has a similar structure by which the duties under the Act are discharged.