Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum on Emergency Planning in Scotland from the Scottish Executive (March 2002)


  1.  This paper sets out the arrangements which are in place in Scotland to respond to the full range of emergency incidents/situations. It explains the legislative basis; the arrangements in place across the Scottish Executive to lead and co-ordinate the response to emergencies; the arrangements in place at regional and local levels, and other groupings which also current exist; representation on UK Committees and links with the Cabinet Office; and action taken since the events of 11 September.


  2.  Emergency Planning in Scotland is based on the same primary legislation (The Civil Defence Act 1948) as the rest of the UK. The subject matter of the Civil Defence Act is not reserved under the Scotland Act. Subordinate legislation has varied slightly to address the different structures in Scotland but the thrust of the legislation and the day to day policy objectives are the same as in England and Wales. In all practical and operational matters, Scotland responds in the same manner as the rest of the UK under the policy of Integrated Emergency Management (IEM) as set out in common guidance:-

    —  Dealing with Disasters, Home Office (now Cabinet Office).

    —  Dealing with Disasters Together, Scottish Executive.

  Although the titles are slightly different, the contents differ only to the extent of the terminology used by the responding organisations north and south of the border

  3.  With effect from 1 April 2001 the payment of specific grant under Civil Defence regulations ceased in Scotland in response to a request from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) for the grant to be mainstreamed into the general arrangements for supporting local government expenditure. The level of grant has been maintained (at £2.7 million) but is now paid through the normal Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE) process with the exception of payments to the Police. It is for local authorities to determine how much to spend and most provide resources for emergency planning well in excess of the grant previously provided under the regulations.


  4.  Responsibility for the co-ordination of Emergency Planning across the Scottish Executive (SE) lies with the Fire Service and Emergency Planning Division (FSEPD) in the Justice Department. There are also dedicated emergency planning teams in the SE Health Department (SEHD) and in the Energy Division of the SE Enterprise and Life Long Learning Department (SEELLD). In addition, there are another 22 Divisions across the Executive who have appointed Emergency Liaison Officers (ELOs) with a responsibility to plan and respond to emergencies affecting their area. The EP Branch in FSEPD provides a single point of contact on a 24/7/365 basis within the Executive, for other Government departments and agencies, for the emergency services, and for all the other responding organisations across Scotland.

  5.  All these emergency staff, and of course Ministers, are contactable directly through the SE Intranet and this greatly aids the dissemination and prompt alerting of all parts of the SE to any threats/incidents etc. The SE Intranet contains the full list of contracts across the SE and agencies as well as guidance about what to do if an emergency occurs. The Scotland Office (SO) in Dover House (DH) in London are also on the emergency contacts list so that SE staff can alert SO Ministers to any emergencies in Scotland. SODH staff also provide an important resource for attendance at meetings in London which may be particularly valuable in the early stages of an emergency while SE staff may be committed to staffing the Scottish Executive Emergencies Room (SEER) in Edinburgh.

  6.  In the event of a major incident, the EP Branch will open the SEER—in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh—to facilitate the SE's response and the collection of information/intelligence for briefing Ministers and senior management. The SEER was opened over the period of the Millennium date change, during the Fuel Crisis in September 2000, and regularly in relation to the range of Emergency Planning exercises (including exercises with MoD) carried out in Scotland.

  7.  Depending on the scale/gravity of a particular situation affecting Scotland, SE Ministers would meet under the chairmanship of the First Minister or Deputy First Minister to discuss and plan the response. (SE Ministers met regularly in this way during the fuel crisis.) It may also be necessary to convene the Scottish Emergencies Co-ordination Committee (SECC) which is chaired by the Head of the Justice Department. Membership varies depending on the nature of the emergency, but may include senior officials from across the Executive, the emergency services, local authorities, health boards, the military, and the utilities. The SECC met at the time of the fuel crisis and has been meeting regularly since the events of 11 September to consider the activity at UK level and determine the necessary requirements and action in Scotland.


  8.  Emergency Planning in Scotland is carried out on the same principles and practice as in the rest of the UK. Central guidance issued by the Executive tends to differ from that issued in England and Wales only on points of detail and/or nomenclature. The primary responders to emergencies are exactly the same as in E&W but the numbers and scale are much smaller and this has resulted in structures and groupings of special or common interests which have to date served Scotland well. The main response to any emergency is provided by the emergency services—police, fire, ambulance and coastguard—supported primarily by the local authorities and the health boards. Other agencies such as the utilities, the voluntary organisations and the military are also involved when appropriate, as are major industrial companies where their expertise may be relevant to the required response.

  9.  There are eight police forces in Scotland, two (Dumfries & Galloway and Fife) cover single local authority areas. The other six are covered by Joint Boards comprising a number of Councils and which vary from 3-12 in total. The eight police forces play a prominent role in Emergency Planning both at a local and regional level. The eight regional strategic Emergency Co-ordinating Groups chaired, normally but not exclusively, by the Chief Constable are also based on police force areas. Membership of the Groups is by senior staff from the full range or organisations mentioned in paragraph 8 above and on average they meet about twice annually. The SE are invited to all of these meetings and currently have an objective to attend at least one meeting of each group annually. Since 11 September the regional co-ordinating groups have been meeting more frequently.

  10.  At local level all 32 local authorities in Scotland have a Council Emergency Planning Officer (CEPO) who in the main reports direct to the Council's Chief Executive. Although the roles can vary slightly from authority to authority, their primary purpose is to ensure that the full range of local authority services and resources can be brought to bear in an emergency situation. In this context, planning has to embrace the full range of possible emergencies from bad weather in the winter through to a fully blown emergency situation. The SE arranges twice yearly meetings with all Council Emergency Planning Officers which provides a forum for discussing current issues, identifying longer term planning, and disseminating best practice.

  11.  There are a number of other groups which exist with more limited but linked agendas. These are:


  This group comprises the eight police force emergency planning officers, British Transport Police, Military HQ Liaison Officer, SE EP staff. Their role is to consider guidance to the police service on emergency planning and management issues. The group is led by two superintendents funded directly by the SE.


  Building on experience of the fuel crisis, ACPOS now has in place a genetic template for the establishment of a Scottish Police Information and Co-ordinating Centre (SPICC). The template details the role of SPICC, the criteria for its establishment, its structure, lines of communication, management arrangements and key roles. The SPICC can be used to manage information, facilitate the development of policy and, if necessary, to co-ordinate police resources on a national level. The SPICC was first set up in Stirling to co-ordinate the police response to the fuel protests. The SPICC was set up in Strathclyde Police Headquarters, Glasgow immediately after 11 September to co-ordinate the security and intelligence response by all police forces across Scotland. It was also the focal point for direct links with other law enforcement agencies across the rest of the UK.


  This is primarily a military group comprising the three services and focused on Integrated Contingency Planning (ICP). However each year there are meetings at working group and strategic group levels (chaired by GOC Scotland) and attended by the police and the SE to discuss areas of common interest in emergency and contingency planning.


  This group first came together in the planning for Y2K but have since remained in existence as a group to consider areas of mutual interest. Members come from the three water authorities, TRANSCO, the major power companies, BT, Railtrack and others. Again SE EP staff are full members of this group.


  This group is part of the UK EPS and is very active in working with the SE in the provision of awareness training for a wide range of potential responders in an emergency situation.


  12.  The SE in association with the SEPS holds up to six residential emergency awareness courses each year. The courses provide an opportunity for `tactical level' staff, across a range of emergency responders, to gain an awareness of the roles of other responders in order to better integrate during an emergency. In addition, there are a large number of exercises across Scotland annually covering a wide range of scenarios. The largest of these tend to be civil/military nuclear and counter terrorism and recent exercises have tested the relationships on reserved and devolved issues. Here again, the SE participates fully in these exercises and with the other agencies involved.


    Civil Contingencies Committee (CCC)

    12.1  The Executive attends the Civil Contingencies Committee and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, respectively, have been to meetings convened post-11 September. We are also represented at official level on the, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Sub-Group and the UK Resilience Sub-Group.

    12.2  The SE is also represented on or has access to the ten or so sectoral working groups which have also been set up. Representation has been drawn from across the SE and where relevant from other parts of the emergency community in Scotland.

    12.3  The SE is also represented on the full range of standing committees on Key Points, Terrorism, War Books and Civil Defence Planning.

Cabinet Office (CO) Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS)

  12.4  SE have been involved and/or briefed on the full range of CCS activity and have provided information on Scottish issues when requested. However, the bulk of CCS activity has been in the sphere on reserved UK issues, such as the review of Emergency Regulations, identification of vulnerable sites, etc and the lead on this activity has been undertaken by Whitehall Departments.


  13.  The attached minutes of the SECC meetings provide a picture of the action taken over the last four months to improve our resilience and response to terrorist/emergency situations. This can be amplified on at the meeting on 12 March.

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