Examination of Witnesses (Questions 640
WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2002
640. One other question that relates to that
is do local authorities have secure arrangements for handling
any such information between local and central government? Do
the relevant staff, particularly your own organisation, have security
(Mr Kerry) We have no staff with security clearance
but at local authorities we routinely, daily, deal with a huge
variety of very sensitive confidential information in all fields.
That is something which ought to be encompassed without a difficulty
and it is something I am sure we can work with Government on if
they would start releasing more information.
641. But you have no security clearance?
(Mr Kerry) I have no security clearance and I do not
think it is necessary for emergency planning officers, for example,
to be given security clearance otherwise it as if they join a
secret society. The information should be for the local authority,
the chief executive or the leader as appropriate and the appropriate
mechanisms for sharing that with relevant officers under the relevant
procedures. I do not want security clearance, it is no good to
my authority if I am on holiday when something happens.
(Cllr Phillips) None of the chairs have security clearance
Chairman: Neither do we. Last question.
642. What is your experience of the usefulness
of the Emergency Communications Network and are the local personal
radio networks, which the Civil Contingencies Secretariat says
local authorities are increasingly purchasing, compatible with
emergency service communication systems? Or with those of the
TA, particularly the TA Home Defence Signals Regiment or the Regular
(Mr Kerry) ECN first. Our experience is it is rubbish,
we do not want it, it is a waste of space and a waste of money,
get rid of it and please spend the money on something more sensible.
I can give you more if you want that in writing. In terms of radio
systems, I think it is a bit of a misnomer to believe that local
authorities have huge access to radio systems. Some authorities
use radios for certain functions, others mainly use mobile telephones.
Any radio systems that do exist, yes, they could be taken in an
emergency but you immediately have a resilience problem in terms
of continuity of your other services. Those radio systems are
not secure, they are unique to the particular individual service,
so we do not have any radio systems that are compatible with the
other emergency networks unless there is a local arrangement where
handsets are passed over.
643. I think that had better be in writing as
well, I am not certain that it was all taken down. Gentlemen,
thank you very much, it was very, very interesting. If there are
any additional points that you would like to raise, questions
we did not ask, answers you would like to amplify on, please,
please, write to us. If there is any further documentation that
you would like to send us, we would be delighted to receive it.
Thank you so much.
(Cllr Phillips) Chairman, thank you very much for
receiving our comments, I hope they have been useful to you.
2 Ev. 124. Back