Civil emergencies

Casualty bureau

The casualty bureau (CB) is the initial single point of contact for receiving and assessing information about people believed to be involved in an incident. Individual chief constables are responsible for initiating a CB. The senior identification manager (SIM) is responsible for managing the CB, and appointing a CB manager to implement the CB strategy.

The primary aims of the CB are to:

  • provide information for the investigation process
  • trace and identify people involved in an incident
  • reconcile missing person records with casualty and survivor/evacuee records.

Basic operational structure

Diagram showing the basic operational structure of a casualty bureau.

CB manager

The CB manager has delegated responsibility for the supervision and efficient running of a CB. Depending on the type and scale of the incident, it may be necessary to appoint a deputy CB manager.

Responsibilities include:

  • deciding on the national mutual aid telephony (NMAT2) coordinator and briefing them on which messages to record and message content
  • assessing the need for, and participating in, mutual aid
  • safeguarding the welfare, and health and safety of all CB staff
  • ensuring that all CB staff are suitably trained before deployment
  • ensuring that all CB staff are thoroughly briefed and debriefed at the beginning and end of their sessions
  • implementing the information sharing protocols of the senior identification manager
  • attending all SIM briefings
  • setting up and maintaining the decision log for an incident
  • advising the SIM in setting the questions for determining the degree of involvement of persons reported as missing
  • advising the SIM in setting the parameters for involvement gradings (IG)
  • in consultation with gold and the SIM, authorising the release of the incident contact centre (ICC) numbers to the media
  • providing situation reports giving gold and the SIM current statistics
  • submitting full reports as and when required
  • filing resulted actions
  • collating all unresolved enquiries for the SIM to consider for appropriate action when the CB is closing
  • fulfilling the role of ante-mortem coordinator (AMC) where one does not exist.

Deputy CB manager

The deputy CB manager is accountable to the CB manager. Responsibilities include:

  • assisting the CB manager in all areas of setting up and managing the CB
  • assuming the manager’s responsibilities in their absence.


All managers must carefully monitor the physical, emotional and psychological welfare of their staff. Psychological welfare requirements include providing:

  • a briefing to ensure people know what is happening and what their contribution will be
  • honest information about what to expect where unpleasant or stressful tasks are involved
  • access to information on sources of help or support
  • information about what constitutes a normal reaction
  • similar support and information for family or partners
  • a debriefing at the end of a day’s activity and the close of operations.

Police forces should provide access to professional help through occupational health and welfare channels.

Involvement gradings

At the start of an incident, the senior identification manager sets unique involvement gradings specific to the incident. These are allocated (via the IG systems) to a missing person.

The criteria for allocating them to persons believed to be missing are based on the particulars of the incident and the likelihood of their involvement (IG1 to IG6). IG1 is the highest, descending down the scale to IG6 as the lowest.

IG7 is applied by the HOLMES CB to misper records that have been matched against injured casualty records.

IG8 is used for cancelled mispers, eg, the misper report is cancelled.

IG9 is used for those believed not to be involved before they are reported missing, eg, a person rings to let the CB know that they are not involved, should anyone report them as a misper.

When ICC operators receive calls from members of the public reporting a potential missing person, the likelihood of the person being involved is assessed.

In a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) incident, if a SIM has not been involved in setting the initial IG criteria used by the FCO emergency response team, the initial IGs may differ slightly. Once the FCO has requested police support, the IGs will be reviewed and, in consultation with the SIM, realigned in accordance with the SIM’s policy.

Involvement gradings scenarios


Preparing a CB

All logistical matters connected with setting up a CB could be assigned to a logistics/administration officer.

Prior to a CB going live, the following tasks must be completed:

  • initiating NMAT2
  • initiating HOLMES combined CB/IR account
  • allocating CB roles
  • ensuring security clearance is in place for relevant staff
  • organising and configuring facilities and equipment
  • configuring all IT systems
  • contacting agreed regional mutual aid forces to alert them
  • notifying the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC), and/or requesting national mutual aid
  • preparing briefing tools and briefing the core team about the incident
  • advising gold when the CB numbers can be published
  • notifying the press bureau of the CB contact numbers with instructions on when they are to be released.

Where another force or agency, eg, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has initiated the call handling with a dedicated number, a time needs to be agreed for the service provider to reroute telephone calls to the host force CB lines.

Logistics/administration officer

This officer reports to the CB manager and is responsible for logistical matters connected with setting up a CB including:

  • staff coordination, welfare and health and safety
  • accommodation, vehicles, facilities, equipment and their resilience
  • the administration of overtime and expenses
  • preparing an advance daily duty record
  • monitoring staffing levels and maintaining all records regarding staff engaged in the bureau
  • logging details of all incoming police resources and support services, and their deployment
  • obtaining statistical information regarding the CB operations as required.


Prior to going live, the host force must assess the likelihood of its requiring mutual aid. The CB manager is responsible for providing the senior identification manager or gold with an evaluation of the need for mutual aid, and for identifying the level of assistance required from each force.

If the request for mutual aid can be addressed regionally, the SIM will ask gold for authorisation. If national mutual aid is required, gold will request that NPoCC is activated.

Activation (mutual aid options)

The scale and casualty numbers may be obvious from the start of the incident, or they may become apparent over time. It is important to consider, at an early stage, how best to manage the two most significant sources of information. These are:

  • misper-related calls from the public ringing the published NMAT2 number
  • casualty details from the documentation teams or responding officers despatched to designated incident-related sites calling an unpublished number or transmitting casualty details by numerous methods.

There are three options that forces can consider when initiating and activating a CB. Each option reflects a different scale of incident and requires coordination and cooperation between forces.

Option one – small incident

The host force staffs the incident contact centre and nominals matching unit (NMU). Another regional force staffs the casualty information unit (CIU), takes the casualty team calls and receives faxed details of casualties. If casualty numbers are limited, the casualty handling could be undertaken by the host force NMU, ie, merge the CIU and NMU, with no outside force involvement.

Option two – medium incident

The region takes on the call handling but one force is identified (if necessary) for casualty handling. The host force retains the NMU and its associated functions.

Option three – large incident

National call handling is established beyond the region to take calls from the public. Depending on the scale of casualties, one force or region is identified for casualty handling while the host force retains the NMU and its associated functions.


Page last accessed 09 April 2020