1. Default position
Where the disaster is too wide-ranging to be handled by a single department, or where the lead is not clear from this list:
UK - The Cabinet Office’s Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) is responsible for taking the immediate lead and then for ensuring that one department is confirmed as the lead government department. The CCS is also responsible for resolving all cases of doubt so that one department is promptly confirmed as the lead. Where the incident is threatened or caused by terrorism, the initial phase is led by the Home Office Terrorism and Protection Unit.
Scotland - The Scottish Executive Justice Department (SEJD) will initiate the Scottish Executive Emergency Action Team, provide advice on lead allocation, and where appropriate will make a recommendation to Scottish Executive Ministers and the Permanent Secretary.
Wales - The HR (Facilities and Emergencies) Division of the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) will take the immediate lead for any matters which are devolved and in which the lead role needs to be confirmed.
Northern Ireland - The Civil Contingencies Policy Branch (CCPB) of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister will provide advice on lead allocation and, where appropriate, will make a recommendation to the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service on this.
2. Lead Government Departments - Responsibilities for Planning, Response, and Recovery from Emergencies
It is important for all levels of government to be clear, in advance, which department will lead on main potential challenges. The Cabinet Office is responsible for maintaining the list of Lead Government Department responsibilities for planning, response, and recovery to a wide range of situations.
Most incidents are handled by local emergency responders with no direct involvement from central government. Where there is a need for central government involvement, this is undertaken in accordance with the established concept of Lead Government Department. The document below sets out lead government department responsibilities for planning, response, and recovery. It takes on board recommendations from Lord Newton’s inquiry (Buncefield fuel depot) and the Pitt Review 2008 (Flooding) which called for clarity around roles and responsibilities, particularly in the recovery phase. In addition, this document takes on board lessons learnt from exercising/operations and reflects recent machinery of government changes.
The Cabinet Office will continue to provide support, as required, to lead departments during the planning, response and recovery phases.