Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted from ACPOS (March 2002)


  Civil Contingency and Emergency Planning arrangements in Scotland are co-ordinated through a nationally recognised structure known as "Integrated Emergency Management".

  Under the principles of IEM the response to an emergency concentrates on the effects rather than cause and wherever possible should be planned or undertaken as an extension of normal day to day activities. The underlying aim of the planning process in Scotland is to develop flexible arrangements which will enable agencies to deal with any crisis whether foreseen or not. Events following the terrorist attacks on America on 11 September 2001 have brought sharply into focus the ability of organisations to respond effectively should a disaster of that scale take place in Scotland. Planning is based on Risk Assessment and whilst the risk of an attack on this Country may be perceived to be being low the consequences of an attack are such that not to plan for it would be unthinkable. It must be said however, that this process is not new, as part of the millennium preparations emphasis was placed on the consequences of a failure of some part of the critical infrastructure and arrangements were put in place to counter this.

  The recognised stages in Integrated Emergency Management are:






  The two main source documents in relation to the multi-agency co-ordination of Civil Emergencies are:

  Principles of Command and Control;


  Dealing with Disasters Together (published by the Scottish Executive Justice Department).

  Additionally Scottish Forces have produced an ACPOS Emergency Procedures Manual which mirrors the ACPO Manual to reflect the close relationship between Emergency Planners north and south of the border.

  In addition to this Forces have produced their own Major Incident Plans to take account of local considerations based on National Guidance.


  The foundations of a co-ordinated response are the preparedness, expertise and mutual awareness of Local Emergency Services, Local Authorities and other organisations who may have to respond to a Civil Emergency/Major Incident. In Scotland, planning is undertaken for this with the lead role falling to the Emergency Services and Local Authority to ensure the level of preparedness in each Force area. Strategic planning is undertaken in each area between Chief Officers/Executives from various agencies within Scotland and is centred on Co-ordinating Groups often referred to as Executive or Strategic Groups who meet on a regular basis. Representation includes the Chief Executives of the Local Authorities, Senior Staff from the Emergency Services, Health Boards, Military and other key organisations such as the Utilities who dictate policy in respect of Integrated Emergency Management in their areas of responsibility.

  The Executive/Strategic Groups are supported by Working/Tactical Groups who address a variety of issues including training, exercising, media and other related topics. Specific Contingency Plans are drawn up where legislation requires or a risk has been identified and in some cases generic plans are developed to deal with hazards which transcend local boundaries.

  This structure focuses on the needs within Local Authority areas in Scotland and formed the basis of our response to recent emergencies such as the Fuel Crisis and the Foot and Mouth Outbreak.


  There is no doubt that the tragic events of 11 September 2001 have fundamentally changed the way organisations and individuals consider the threat from terrorism. Whilst the Integrated Emergency Management model provides us with a strong foundation on which to base our response to a major incident there is little doubt that the effect of an attack in this country of the scale seen in America would considerably stretch the resources of all the responder agencies. However, learning the lessons of previous emergencies Scottish Forces have pre-established national arrangements for the co-ordination of resources and response which were activated to good effect during the Fuel Crisis and in the aftermath of 11 September.

  Attention is drawn to the explanatory document which establishes the "Scottish Police Information and Co-ordination Centre"(s PICC). This initiation document is used to activate the response from the eight Scottish Forces should an event occur which requires national (Scottish) co-ordination or response.

  Following 11 September the Scottish Executive activated contingency arrangements and set in place the Scottish Emergencies Co-ordinating Committee to co-ordinate the activities of Central Government and to facilitate effective communication with the bodies engaged in planning for Post September incidents. This forum was particularly useful during the Anthrax scares and ensured that there was a co-ordinated response from all the agencies involved. A number of guidance documents and procedures were introduced and these issues were promoted and advanced at the SECC. The Committee has since been renamed the Scottish Civil Contingencies Committee to reflect the changing role and emphasis on preparedness. To compliment these arrangements ACPOS have undertaken to participate in a Multi Agency Co-ordinating Group, which would be set up, probably in London if the UK were the subject of a single site or multiple attack.

  Counter Terrorism is a reserved issue, however the effects or consequence management implications of such an incident if it were to occur in Scotland would be devolved to the Scottish Administration. The issues surrounding these arrangements were recently tested at an Aglow level Home Office sponsored Counter Terrorist Exercise (Exercise Lairig Ghru) which centred on terrorists with an improvised nuclear device making political demands on the United Kingdom Government. The exercise was held in Inverness in February of this year and involved Northern Constabulary and Grampian Police who had been engaged in planning the exercise in close co-operation with the military. Whilst the debrief process has yet to be completed it is anticipated that some of the recommendations will focus on Government arrangements particularly in relation to Scottish Executive presence within COBRA where devolved issues such as consequence management can be fully considered. Additionally it is likely that reports will recommend the presence of an Officer of ACPOS level within COBRA to advise on Scottish policing issues. This exercise tested the ability of Scottish Forces to work jointly with other agencies to deal with a major terrorist threat to the United Kingdom.

  It is evident from initial observations from other organisations involved in the exercise namely, Health and Local Authorities that there is a strong desire for greater openness in planning for terrorist incidents. Forces welcome this, particularly as consequence management issues will ultimately be handed over to the Local Authority from the Chief Constable as part of the recovery process. The Home Office Counter Terrorist Manual, which has recently been reclassified from "secret" to "confidential", may need further review (sanitised) to enable the relevant information to be shared with other agencies.

  The debrief process for this exercise will include many agencies particularly the Home Office Terrorism Protection Unit who will be responsible for ensuring the learning points as they affect the national plan are addressed.

  Scottish Forces participate in a linked telephony regional Casualty Bureau and this process was successfully activated during the exercise to test casualty information handling between all Scottish Forces.


  In response to the CBRN threat Scottish Forces participated in the national programme of training for CBRN responders at Strategic and Tactical Level. In addition forensic officers have also been trained to recover packages with a view to securing evidence. This programme is ongoing with financial support from Central Government and the Scottish Executive particularly for the provision of protective equipment. To compliment the training programme Scottish Forces produced a CBRN Good Practice Guide (Scotland) for staff who may have to deal with such an incident and it is likely that this document will be superseded or amended when national guidance is available. At the height of the Anthrax scare it was identified that there was only one centre for the analysis of such packages in the UK and much work was undertaken by members of the Scottish Emergencies Co-ordinating Committee to establish alternative testing arrangements within Scotland which has considerably reduced the time taken to assess packages and reassure the public.


  Conscious of the need to reassure communities Scottish Forces enhanced arrangements to monitor community tensions following events of 11 September. Whilst there were some minor incidents overall, communities in Scotland responded well and Forces will continue to work closely with communities, particularly those who may feel vulnerable.


  Some areas require further attention and may require action by agencies other than the Police. The following are examples for consideration:

  At present, threat levels exist for a variety of threats ranging from Irish Terrorism, International Terrorism and threats against facilities such as Military establishments and Economic Key Points. Because of their number there is a degree of confusion and rationalisation of these would be helpful.

  Furthermore, the Security Service may consider this an appropriate time to undertake a review of the status of Economic Key Points throughout the country in conjunction with the sponsoring Government Departments where appropriate. There has been discussion on the issue of Key Points within the Ministry of Defence with a view to reducing their number and the Police Service await the outcome with interest.

  Much work has been undertaken to address the issue of decontamination and whilst monies have become available for the provision of additional equipment etc it is unclear at this stage what the long term implications of this additional expenditure will have on Force budgets; this is still a developing picture and would need to be a national response.

  Little has been done in this country in planning for mass evacuation and whilst some work is ongoing in London to address this issue it is of concern that the United Kingdom as a whole is relatively ill prepared for such an event. The outcome of the planning exercises in London are awaited with interest.

  The problem of Emergency Mortuary provision is a long standing one, which is proving extremely difficult to resolve. If any area of Scotland were to be faced with the problem of dealing with a large number of bodies (which for some could be in the region of 20 to 30) then the likelihood of that area coping would be remote. Most areas rely on arrangements with local Military establishments to set up Emergency Mortuaries, which would take around two days to establish. This does not take into account the setting up of pathological facilities, which are controlled by stringent Health and Safety rules and would be difficult to achieve. Meetings are scheduled to take place with the Scottish Executive on this issue which is a significant gap in our ability to respond to an incident of any magnitude.


  Not only have Forces undertaken a review of arrangements for managing major incidents, they have maintained and strengthened links with strategic sites both civil and military with a view to enhancing security and providing reassurance. At the request of the Security Service, Police and companies carried out a security review at onshore Strategic Oil and Gas sites and Police have given specialist advice to Hospitals and Research Centres/Universities storing sensitive material.

  Work has been undertaken to enhance the security of other Key Sites including Water Treatment Works which is particularly welcomed bearing in mind the vulnerable nature of these sites. Any further review of security at Water Treatment Works would be welcomed as these are seen as being particularly vulnerable to attack.


  Whilst the Military are closely involved in planning at a local level (on the Executive and Working Groups) there is dialogue with representatives of the three Armed Services at regular Joint Services Co-ordinate Group meetings at Chief Constable level and at Working Group level. These meetings were instigated as part of the millennium preparations in Scotland and have proved extremely valuable in supporting existing excellent relationships with the three Services. In addition, the Military are represented on the ACPOS Standing Working Group on Emergency Procedures and regularly visit Forces to discuss issues of mutual interest.


  All Forces undertake extensive training and exercising programmes which are shared through the ACPOS Standing Working Group on Emergency Procedures. Exercises are generally driven by legislative requirements or other considerations in relation to risks/threats. It is the intention of the Home Office Terrorism Protection Unit to increase the number of Major Counter Terrorist Exercises and this is welcomed as an opportunity to further develop our response to Consequence Management issues with our multi agency partners.

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