Emergency response planning


The government works with devolved administrations, emergency responders and other organisations to enhance the UK’s ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

Throughout the UK, we need to be ready and able to deal with potential emergencies and disruptive events; these can range from natural disasters like flooding or heavy snow to deliberate acts or attacks. Crises can happen suddenly (for example, a chemical plant explosion) or develop gradually (for example, a ‘flu epidemic or widespread industrial action).


Our work is based on 4 main actions:

  • risk assessment
  • preparation and planning
  • response and recovery
  • building a resilient society to ensure businesses and communities are better prepared for, and able to recover from, emergencies

Risk assessment

We aim to identify and assess risks. This involves assessing the likelihood and impact of particular events or situations which might threaten serious damage to human welfare, the environment or security of the UK.

We consider situations that might be important enough to be likely to disrupt the work of emergency responders, or which would require a special mobilisation of emergency response resources.

We do this by:

  • working with scientists, statisticians and technicians to identify and assess major risks that affect the health, welfare, environment, or security of the nation
  • sharing information with all organisations responsible for managing these risks nationally and locally, for example Local Resilience Forums, police forces, Ambulance Trusts etc, through the National Risk Assessment and supporting guidance

Preparation and planning

We make sure arrangements are in place at all levels of government to respond to civil emergencies.

We do this by:

  • working in partnership with central and local government, devolved administrations, emergency responders, the private and voluntary sectors, and the EU and NATO
  • making sure that, in advance of any emergency, agreed plans and resources are in place and ready for the response to any major emergency
  • overseeing a programme of training, regular exercises and testing to ensure response plans are properly understood and will work in the event of an emergency

Response and recovery

We make sure that central government is ready to respond to emergencies and provide any support required by local emergency responders.

We do this by:

  • working with other government departments and local emergency responders to put in place arrangements to address and respond to an emergency situation
  • coordinating a central government response through the dedicated central government crisis management facilities at the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR), where necessary
  • providing guidance to deal with the immediate and longer-term effects of dealing with an emergency, including rebuilding, restoring and rehabilitating the community

Building a resilient society

We work to ensure society is better prepared for, and able to recover from, emergencies.

We do this by:

  • working with organisations and individuals from across the UK, including local responders, business, the voluntary sector, communities and individuals to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to become better prepared for, more resilient to, and better placed to recover from emergencies
  • providing opportunities to share news, ideas and good practice, publications and practical guides


The government’s National Security Strategy sets out the objective of ensuring a secure and resilient UK: protecting our people, economy, infrastructure, territory and way of life from all major risks that can affect us directly.

The National Security Council is responsible for meeting this objective. It is chaired by the Prime Minister, and advised by the National Security Adviser.

The National Security Adviser is supported by a number of teams. The Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) is responsible for work to improve the UK’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. Its work concentrates on 4 main areas: risk assessment, preparation and planning, response and recovery, and building a resilient society.