Civil emergencies

Civil contingencies

Civil emergencies require a professional, structured and coordinated response from all the emergency services. Police, fire and ambulance services need interoperable arrangements to manage major or complex incidents successfully and to meet legislative requirements.

This guidance covers police contingency planning and response to civil emergencies, regardless of the cause. It focuses on interoperability between agencies when providing an emergency response. Police roles and specialisms are covered, as well as the knowledge and skills required to respond to civil emergencies.

This page looks at the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) and key definitions.

JESIP

Public inquiries have criticised the lack of interoperability between the emergency services when responding to incidents. The Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) was established to address this deficit.

JESIP provides agreed joint working practices to improve the way the police, fire and ambulance services work together when responding to incidents.The programme delivers a number of products to help promote and embed interoperability across the emergency services.

Products

JESIP’s primary product is Joint Doctrine – The Interoperability Framework. All other JESIP products are derived from information found in the Joint Doctrine. The key areas are:

  • five principles of interoperability
    1. co-location
    2. communication
    3. coordination
    4. joint understanding of risk
    5. shared situational awareness

These key areas are addressed in JESIP training products which are available to multi-agency partners.

Note: JESIP working practices apply to all incidents responded to jointly.

Arrangements

JESIP doctrine continues to be implemented at a local level. This includes training, exercising and a new system of joint organisational learning. The following arrangements are in place:

  • Support – a small emergency services team supports ongoing local implementation. It is based in the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat.
  • Oversight – an Interoperability Board provides national oversight. It is chaired by strategic lead officers from the emergency services, who comprise its membership alongside representatives from government departments and wider agencies and bodies.
  • Learning – the joint organisational learning (JOL) project identifies, analyses and acts on learning from live incidents, testing and exercising. JOL delivers change on the front line as required.

Definitions

The following originate from the lexicon of UK civil protection terminology that sets common and agreed definitions used in the multi-agency business of civil protection. The lexicon is one of the underpinning elements of interoperable communications and coherent multi-agency working.

Emergency

An event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or the security of the UK or of a place in the UK.

Major incident

An event or situation, with a range of serious consequences, which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agencies

Major incident can take many different forms, such as natural, transport incidents, man-made and terrorism. However each incident will distinctly fall into one of two categories, ‘sudden impact’ or ‘rising tide’.

Rapid onset emergency

An event or situation that develops quickly and usually with immediate effects, thereby limiting the time available to consider response options.

Forces should ensure they maintain the capability and plans to enable an initial response to potential emergencies. This may be supported by mutual aid where necessary. The initial response should be relative to generic risks and the risk profile within their area.

Rising tide emergency

An event or situation that develops into an emergency or major incident over a period of days, weeks or even months, the final impact of which may not be apparent early on. Examples include health-related emergencies and severe weather events.

Forces (together with other Category 1 responders) need to recognise the potential for such events to escalate and should identify the points at which the response should intensify to avoid being overwhelmed.

Critical incident

Any incident where the effectiveness of the police response is likely to have a significant impact on the confidence of the victim, their family and/or the community.

Ambulance and fire services do not yet have the same critical incident methodology as the police service. This means confusion with major incidents can arise if an incident involving other agencies is declared a critical incident.

Examples of events that may be deemed critical incidents:

  • homicides
  • serious sexual offences
  • firearms incidents
  • hate crimes
  • police pursuits.

Page last accessed 27 April 2018