Civil emergencies


Mobilisation is the process that supports mutual aid. Mobilisation may occur in response to spontaneous or pre-planned events and it is based on a tiered response.

A force which requests mutual aid is referred to as the host force and a force which supplies mutual aid is referred to as the donor force.

See also APP on mobilisation and NPCC guidelines on charging and cost recovery.

National Police Coordination Centre

NPoCC operates a 24/7 service. It:

  • assesses national capacity and contribution in relation to the Strategic Policing Requirement and National Policing Requirement
  • establishes and coordinates continuous testing and exercising regimes to ensure effective capability and mobilisation of national assets when required
  • facilitates mutual aid in a steady state and provides a fit-for-purpose coordination facility in times of crisis
  • ensures effective reporting mechanisms with the Home Office and central government crisis management structures.

NPoCC has the capacity and capability to scale up for significant operational mobilisation demand when required (while maintaining unit business continuity). Under these circumstances, NPoCC declares and activates its operational status.

NPoCC undertakes horizon scanning with forces and regions to maintain a national overview of service capacity/capability and to inform resource management based on threat and risk considerations. It also:

  • liaises with national policing areas (eg, to develop and maintain role profiles, and undertake specialist skill capacity assessments)
  • develops and disseminates shared good practice (eg, outcomes of the mobilisation review group and post-event debriefing results)
  • manages the Mercury system (web-based system for mobilising resources – trained designated users in NPoCC and all forces have access to it).
Post-event debriefing

Following routine or significant mobilisations, NPoCC ensures a coordinated post-event debrief process is implemented. This is to capture learning, develop good practice and improve future mobilisation.

Debriefs also support other related NPCC activity, eg, Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) and NPCC Public Order and Public Safety (POPS).

consideration of the specific challenges associated with the event

  • consideration of existing collaborative agreements.

The scale and/or nature of the mutual aid requirement may result in an intelligence-led pro rata approach being applied to meet the demand. NPoCC would seek chief officer agreement to implement the approach which supports, as far as is practicable, a fair and equitable distribution of resources.

If there is competing resource demand, the NPCC president, in liaison with the NMC, acts as a final arbiter in any situation where a decision is required on supplying finite resources (note: to date this level of arbitration has not been required).

Specialist resources

See also NPR and civil emergencies.

Casualty Bureau Incident Room.

The Casualty Bureau (CB) Incident Room is the central point to receive, collate and assess all information in relation to an incident. This includes information about people believed to be involved in the incident.

The CB Incident Room provides resources and a process to manage high volume data, in order for key or critical information to be identified at the earliest opportunity. The CB Incident Room provides a telephone line for the public to report people involved in an incident as well as an online reporting facility: Major Incident Public Portal (MIPP). This website can be used by the public to directly report information, and additionally it can be used by police and other partner agencies to report persons involved using the Investigative Triage Form (ITF), which is password protected and predefined by the Casualty Bureau Manager.

A CB Incident Room is likely to be activated when there is a significant demand from the public for information and exceeds normal force call handling capabilities, or by the Senior Identification Manager to receive significant volume of information from the public (using the ITF.)

All police regions are required have a CB Incident Room capability. All police forces can provide additional CB call handling resources to support any other CB Incident Room upon mutual aid request. All information recorded via the CB Incident Room telephone numbers and on-line via MIPP, are recorded into a secure incident cloud–based account. This ensures all information is collated in the same place.

When the Casualty Bureau Incident Room is activated for a mass fatality incident, it manages all information in relation to the recovery, reconciliation, identification & re-patriating of victims and criminal investigation.

Mass fatality incidents

A mass fatality incident is any incident where the number of fatalities is greater than normal local arrangements can manage.

The strategic coordinating group (SCG) should declare the incident as a mass fatality and discuss the consequences of this declaration with all responding agencies involved.

Specialist resources are available to assist in the response to mass fatality incidents. See also APP on disaster victim identification.

Senior identification manager

The senior identification manager (SIM) is an experienced and accredited PIP Level 3 (Professionalising the Investigation Process) senior investigating officer (SIO). They will have received additional training on mass fatalities and the identification of the deceased – see disaster victim identification coordination.

Mass fatality coordination group

When a mass fatality incident is declared, a mass fatality coordination group (MFCG) is formed. This group coordinates all aspects of the DVI process on behalf of the strategic commander. The MFCG reports to the SCG. The MFCG is chaired by the coroner and attended by the SIM. The coroner and/or the SIM attend SCG meetings to provide updates on the DVI process.

The mass fatality coordination group can meet at any suitable location and has command of the tactical and operational response to the incident in relation to the deceased.

Potential group members include:

  • HM coroner (chair)
  • SIM
  • SIO – can be represented by the SIM
  • deputy SIM(s) as appointed
  • casualty bureau manager
  • scene evidence recovery manager (SERM)
  • crime scene manager/bomb scene manager
  • police mortuary operations coordinator (PMOC)
  • family liaison coordinator
  • survivor and/or family and friends centre managers (if these have been established)
  • documentation team coordinator
  • planning and logistics manager (if appointed)
  • finance manager (local authority)
  • chief executive of the local authority or their representative.

Factors to consider in the decision to declare a mass fatality incident include:

  • view of the coroner
  • view of the SIM/SIO
  • number of deceased – known or believed to be dead
  • location of the deceased
  • level of fragmentation of the deceased
  • contamination of the deceased
  • criminal investigation requirements and forensic evidence recovery
  • current mortuary capacity
  • availability of the identified emergency mortuary provision.

Lord Justice Clarke identified four principles for dealing with fatalities:

  1. Provision of honest and, as far as possible, accurate information at all times and at every stage
  2. Respect for the deceased and the bereaved
  3. A sympathetic and caring approach throughout
  4. The avoidance of mistaken identification.

These principles should be followed when identifying the deceased and, particularly, when dealing with mass fatality incidents. For more information see Public Inquiry into the Identification of Victims Following Major Transport Accidents: Report of Lord Justice Clarke (2001) (Section 34.1 pages 148/9).

Disaster victim identification coordination

The UK response to disaster victim identification (DVI) is coordinated by a central team attached to NPoCC.

UK DVI work with the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and UK police forces to provide a standardised response which facilitates mutual aid nationally. The response is tested and exercised and capable of immediate deployment. The response is under the direction of and accountable to an NPCC lead.

DVI is available to all forces and delivered by officers and staff trained in specialist roles.

DVI tactical adviser to strategic command

Nationally there are a number of SIMs trained to PIP Level 4 who are available to provide support to both the police strategic commander and the appointed SIM in these incidents. Where a force does not have this capability, the response can be activated through the UK DVI coordinators or through NPoCC.

DVI support to the FCO

The NPCC has an MOU with the FCO to provide support to an incident abroad which involves British nationals.

This response can be UK-based call handling or casualty bureau and family liaison, or include the deployment of DVI resources abroad.

The response is coordinated by the UK DVI team who provide support to the on-call region and liaise with government departments involved to provide the link to national policing.

To provide the required cover, each of the nine police regions of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are on call for five weeks at a time on a rota. On-call cover is required for the roles of:

  • gold commander
  • SIM
  • SIO
  • casualty bureau
  • family liaison.

CBRN staff

CBRN-trained staff are trained to wear specialist personal protective equipment including a respirator to perform their role and enter environments confirmed or suspected to be contaminated.

CBRN staff include:

  • firearms officers
  • public order specialists
  • police search advisers (PolSAs)
  • licensed search officers
  • crime scene investigators
  • DVI staff.

Police support units

A police support unit (PSU) is a numerically fixed body of officers equipped and trained to a command minimum standard (Public Order Mutual Aid Standard).

The standard structure for a PSU is:

  • one PSU commander (inspector)
  • three serials – each serial comprises one sergeant and seven constables.

The basic formation of a PSU allows for effective deployment of resources as a standard unit.

Basic deployment units

A basic deployment unit consists of:

  • one inspector
  • three sergeants
  • 21 constables who are not public order mutual aid trained.

Not all emergencies require public order skilled officers and so forces should also have the capacity to provide BDUs where appropriate and at the request of NPoCC.

Interoperability and organisation

A key component of interoperability is that resources from different forces can work together during a mobilisation event.

Resources deployed to an affected force may be organised into larger teams. The advantage of this is that individuals form part of a team. This makes it easier for them to identify with colleagues and be linked to a chain of command. It also allows for more efficient briefing and debriefing.

Due to the diversity of professions within the police, there is no prescriptive model for grouping resources. The ethos of organising staff into groups does, however, apply to most deployments regardless of the numbers or roles involved.

Basic mobilisation units

In relation to the movement and deployment of general police resources, it is possible to build on existing structures. This enables large-scale and effective groups to be organised.

The core unit for grouping resources is the basic mobilisation unit (BMU). The BMU incorporates the structures associated with the PSU, as follows:

  • one commander (eg, chief inspector)
  • three PSUs (comprising three inspectors, nine sergeants and 63 constables).

If required, the BMU can be grouped by multiples of three to form larger units. As they expand, these units become intermediate mobilisation units (IMUs) and advanced mobilisation units (AMUs):

  • IMU = one commander (eg, superintendent) and three BMUs
  • AMU = one commander (eg, chief superintendent) and three IMUs.

Page last accessed 20 January 2022