Regional Resilience Teams
The primary role of the Regional Resilience Team (RRT) in any emergency will be to co-ordinate the response of the whole Government Office and to ensure effective communications between the national and local level.
In events where the scale or duration mean that the resources of an individual RRT are exhausted, the Teams will be able to draw on other staff and expertise from within the Government Office and on the resources of RRTs in other regions.
Liaison with central Government
Even in smaller scale events, Government Departments may approach the RRTs for information, who in turn will request situation reports from local responders. Using the RRTs as the main point of contact will reduce the risk of duplicated requests from different Government Departments. Local responders can also use the Teams as a first port of call for requests for advice or assistance from central government.
In carrying out this role, it may be appropriate for the RRT to place a liaison officer within the local responders’ operational control, i.e ‘Gold command’. This will be co-located with the Home Office led Government Liaison Team when present.
When the national Civil Contingencies Committee (CCC) mechanism is brought into play, the RRTs will provide situation reports for the CCC Situation Cell, the Lead Government Department and any other Government Department with a significant interest.
Regional Civil Contingencies Committees
Regional Resilience Forums (RRFs) have no role to play in the operational response to emergencies. There may, however, be exceptional circumstances in which the scale and geographical extent of an incident requires the response and recovery effort to be co-ordinated at a regional level. In these circumstances a Regional Civil Contingencies Committee (RCCC) will be set up.
Its roles will be to:
- collate and maintain a strategic picture of the evolving situation within the region, with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on consequence management and recovery issues
- assess whether there are any issues which cannot be resolved at a local level
- facilitate mutual aid arrangements within the region and, where necessary, between regions to resolve such issues
- ensure an effective flow of communication between local, regional and national levels, including the co-ordination of reports to the national level on the response and recovery effort
- raise to a national level any issues that cannot be resolved at a local or regional level
- ensure that the national input to response and recovery is co-ordinated with the local and regional efforts
- guide the deployment of resources across the region by identifying regional priorities
- provide, where appropriate a regional spokesperson
RCCCs will observe the principle of ‘subsidiarity’ - it is recognised that local decisions should be taken at the local level. The RCCC will not interfere in local command and control arrangements (unless specifically empowered to do so by emergency regulations – see below) but, will provide a mechanism for ensuring that local responders can be as fully informed as possible in the decisions they have to take. Where arrangements already exist for the co-ordination of mutual aid the RCCC will complement such arrangements and add value by taking a multi-agency overview.
RCCCs will also liaise on the deployment of national resources. So, for example, an RCCC will take a view on the need for military aid and on priorities within the region for such aid, and put requests to the national level. However, the Ministry of Defence will authorise the use of military aid and decisions on the deployment and direction of military staff and resources will remain with the normal command hierarchy.
Support for RCCCs
Where events justify the setting up of an RCCC, the RRT will take the lead in:
- arranging a location for meetings
- establishing video/teleconferencing links when appropriate
- drawing up agendas, circulating papers and information to committee members as necessary
- providing the formal record of committees’ discussions and decisions.
An RCCC will only be established where it will add value to the response and recovery effort. It is unlikely, therefore, that an RCCC will be convened in the event of a single-site event (e.g. a conventional car-bomb attack) regardless of scale. In these circumstances, even in the most severe event, there would be a direct line of communication between local and national level and a multi-agency Gold Command structure would be created.
In London, the multi-agency Gold Co-ordinating Group is the RCCC so there will in effect be an RCCC for single-site incidents.
An RCCC is more likely to be set up where a number of local Gold Commands are established within a region (e.g. in the event of a multi site terrorist attack) or, in particular, where there is an event with widespread effects and a non-police led response (e.g. severe weather, infectious disease outbreak, fuel shortages, etc.).
An RCCC can be called at the request of a member of a local Gold Command, with the agreement of the Government Office. A request for an RCCC meeting at level 1 (see further details below) can also be made by members of the Regional Resilience Forum. The Lead Government Department can also instruct the Government Office to establish an RCCC.
As with RRFs, the core membership of the RCCC will be drawn from representatives of the emergency services, local authorities, central government departments and agencies with a regional presence but other agencies such as voluntary organisations, utilities and transport operators could be invited, depending upon the circumstances.
In London, the RCCC (Gold Co-ordinating Group) for a large scale emergency would include representatives of the utilities and transport providers, as well as the wider health community, configured as cells to enable an efficient Gold Group.
In the first instance, the RCCC will be chaired by the Regional Director of the Government Office for the Region (or their deputy). However, the Committee can agree another chair, if the circumstances merit it (e.g. in the event of a human disease outbreak, the chair is likely to be the Regional Director of Public Health). The Government Office will provide specialist topic and geographical advice as well as secretariat support for the RCCC.
In London, as the RCCC (for immediate impact events) is the Gold Co-ordinating Group, it will be chaired by the police. Proposals are being developed for the membership, chair and make up of the RCCC for ‘rising tide’ events and in the recovery phase.
It is anticipated that the RCCC will meet at three levels:
Level One meetings would be convened in the phase prior to an emergency, where prior warning is available. The meeting would be held to review the situation and update local stakeholders, with a view to escalating to Level Two if the situation warranted.
Level Two meetings would be convened in the event of wide area disruption in the region. The meetings could be convened by the Government Office, in consultation with members of the RCCC and Central Government crisis management machinery. They might also be convened if a national response or national co-ordination of an event was required, such as during a fuel distribution crisis.
Level Three meetings could only be called once the Civil Contingencies Act becomes law, following the formal declaration of a decision to take special legislative measures.
The Regional Nominated Co-ordinator
Under the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act, if emergency regulations are introduced, the Government must appoint a Regional Nominated Co-ordinator (RNC), whose principle function will be to facilitate the co-ordination of activities under the emergency regulations. Specific functions for the RNC may be included in the regulations. The RNC would also assume the chairmanship of the (Level Three) RCCC.
The Civil Contingencies Act confers a power on Her Majesty (or in certain very limited circumstances, a senior Minister of the Crown) to make regulations if an emergency has occurred or is about to occur. The Act gives further detail as to what provision may (and may not) be included in emergency regulations. The Act expressly allows for emergency powers to have effect in only a part or region of the United Kingdom.
An essential point to note is that Emergency Powers legislation is a mechanism for dealing with only the most serious of emergencies that require an urgent response, an instrument of last resort. The 1920 Act has been used twelve times in its 84 year history, the last time being in 1974. In the years since a considerable amount of sector specific emergency legislation has been introduced which reduced the need to resort to emergency powers, in part because of a recognition that Emergency Powers legislation was inadequate. There is still a need for a latent capacity to rapidly make new temporary statutory provision where this is the most effective way of enabling the resolution of an emergency situation.
The Act introduces a range of other new features, mostly designed to ensure emergency powers cannot be misused and can be used in a more targeted and proportionate manner. The centre piece of these is the “triple lock”, which ensures emergency powers will only be available if:
- an emergency that threatens serious damage to human welfare, the environment or security has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur
- it is necessary to make temporary provision urgently in order to resolve the emergency as existing powers are insufficient and it is not possible to bring forward a Bill in the usual way because of the need to act urgently
- emergency regulations must be proportionate to the aspect or effect of the emergency they are directed at
In addition emergency powers:
- cannot prohibit or enable the prohibition of participation in, or any activity in connection with, a strike or other industrial action
- cannot instigate any form of military conscription
- cannot alter any aspect of criminal procedures
- cannot create any new offence other than breach of the regulations themselves
- must be compatible with the Human Rights Act and EU law