Guidance

National Recovery Guidance: humanitarian issues

Guidance primarily aimed at local responders covering some humanitarian issues that may arise during the Recovery Phase of an emergency in the UK.

Health needs of people

Background

Those caught up in an emergency, as either part of a responders workforce or members of the public, can be affected in many ways. Physical and psychological injuries sustained as a direct result of an emergency will be as varied as the incident that caused them.

In many ways, a physical injury may be more apparent than psychological injury. Common to both, however, is the need for effective and timely diagnosis, treatment and continued support during recovery.

During recovery, an affected population and/or workforce is likely to need access to the healthcare system.

Patients resident in the UK* can access Primary and Secondary healthcare services completely free of charge (Refer to ‘Funding’ for charging policies for non-UK nationals) through the various parts of National Health Services (NHS), for instance:

(i) Primary Care services encompassing:

  • NHS Walk-in Centres – 24-hour confidential nurse-led health advice over the phone
  • NHS Direct – fast ‘no-appointment’ advice and treatments for minor conditions
  • GP practices – diagnosing and treating a wide range of health problems in the local community
  • dentists – routine and specialist care for teeth and gums
  • opticians – carrying out eye and sight examinations, prescribing and fitting spectacles
  • pharmacists – supplying prescription and ‘over-the-counter’ medicines and health care advice to patients and members of the public

(ii) Secondary Care services including:

  • emergency and urgent care
  • ambulance trusts – responding to life-threatening and urgent conditions
  • NHS trusts – emergency and planned hospital treatment
  • mental health trusts - specialist care for people with mental health problems
  • care trusts – combining NHS and social care

*The Department of Health (DH) will have a role in co-ordinating medical assistance for evacuees.

The National Health Service in England

The National Health Service (England)

The information above shows how the NHS structure works in England.

For information on the health service in other parts of the UK, please visit the NHS in Northern Ireland, the NHS in Scotland or the NHS in Wales. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands have separate independent health service structures. For more information please visit Isle of Man government, States of Guernsey government and States of Jersey government.

Those requiring treatment will access healthcare services via one of several routes including:

  • according to the need for emergency and urgent care
  • by self-presenting to the likes of their GP
  • in benefiting from their own employer’s occupational health support and services (category 1 responders will usually access primary care through their employer’s occupational health services)

In providing the range of healthcare services, the NHS works alongside and in co-operation with a whole host of organisations and agencies operating in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

Policy and guidance

England

There is a wealth of health information and guidance widely available offering routes to support and advice to both responders and members of the public. Cross-cutting advice and information is available from the likes of:

More specifically, responders may find it useful to refer to the following advice, guidance and support:

(i) Psychological healthcare needs:

The DH has published interim guidance on Planning for the psychosocial and mental health care of people affected by major incidents and disasters.

Other published guidance may be specific to the nature of the emergency, for instance:

Further information is available via:

(ii) Physical healthcare needs

Guidance regarding physical healthcare needs is available at:

NICE provides national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

(iii) Longer term health monitoring

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has a network of local and regional teams who work with GPs, hospital clinicians and other healthcare providers.

HPA laboratories assist in the identification and analysis of disease or environmental samples and have experts who monitor disease trends, chemical specialists who advise on the health effects of environmental hazards, and radiological experts who advise on radiation.

Research programmes aim to develop new ways of diagnosing, treating and controlling disease and establish how health is damaged by exposure to harmful substances.

Wales

There is a wealth of health information and guidance widely available offering routes to support and advice to both responders and members of the public. Cross-cutting advice and information is available from the likes of:

Responders may find it useful to refer to the following advice, guidance and support:

(i) Psychological healthcare needs:

Community Advice and Listening Line: Mental Health Helpline for Wales

Further information is available via:

(ii) Physical healthcare needs

Guidance regarding physical healthcare needs is available at:

The National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence provides national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

(iii) Longer term health monitoring

Public Health Wales works with GPs, hospital clinicians and other healthcare providers to monitor public health in Wales. Public Health Wales also works closely with the HPA to monitor disease trends and to access expert advice on the health effects of chemical or radiation release.

Scotland

Health in Scotland is a devolved matter. Health Protection Scotland works closely with emergency planning partners in Scotland including the Scottish government, NHS Boards. Local authorities and emergency services as well as HPA in England and Wales to ensure preparedness for incidents which are likely to severely test the NHS and other public services. It also advises the Scottish government in its overall strategic management of such incidents.

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

General

During a major emergency, the NHS, supported by the HPA, takes the lead on providing information to the public on any health aspects of the response and recovery from that incident.

For full details of organisational roles during a major incident, please refer to NHS Major Incident Guidance or DH emergency planning guidance.

Further information on how the NHS operates can be found on the NHS website.

Local: Primary Care and Secondary Care

Following any emergency, Acute NHS Trusts work closely with Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), Social Care and Mental Health NHS Trusts to provide advice and support to patients leaving hospital.

PCTs have a duty to protect and promote the health of the public and, therefore, have a central role in planning for and responding to any incident with major consequences for health or health services required in the short, medium or long-term. PCTs are responsible for the provision of primary care services, such as General Practitioner services and NHS Walk-in Centres.

Mental health trusts provide health and social care services for people with mental health problems. Mental health services can be provided through a GP, other primary care services or through more specialist care. This might include counselling and other psychological therapies, community and family support or general health screening. For example, people suffering bereavement, depression, stress or anxiety can get help from primary care or informal community support. If they need more involved support, they can be referred for specialist care. More specialist care is normally provided by mental health trusts or local council social services departments.

NHS Direct is at the forefront of 24-hour health care – delivering telephone and e-health information services, day and night, direct to the public. It provides information and advice about health (including psychological advice and support), illness and health services, to enable patients to make decisions about their healthcare and that of their families.

Independent sector

The independent sector is an important partner for the NHS and crucial in delivering faster, more convenient care and choice to NHS patients. The NHS is harnessing the extra capacity and innovation available in the independent sector in several ways, including the Independent Sector Treatment Centre Programme.

Although the centres are run by independent companies, they must still offer the NHS value for money; meet the high clinical standards demanded by the NHS; and provide genuine extra capacity, rather than drawing doctors and nurses away from the NHS.

Voluntary sector and community sector

The voluntary sector and community sector (VCS) is also a valuable partner in expanding NHS and social care services and improving the overall care patients receive. These organisations play a vital role in helping the NHS meet national standards in some of the highest priority areas such as care for cancer patients and older people; as well as in shaping services round the individual needs of patients.

A recent formal agreement between the DH, the NHS and the VCS will help ensure voluntary organisations play an even bigger role in delivering and improving local services in the future.

Support groups and caring organisations that can provide information, guidance and support include:

  • The Samaritans – offers a 24-hour helpline for those in crisis
  • Cruse – Bereavement Care – offers counselling, advice and support throughout the UK
  • Disaster Action – provides support and guidance to those people who are affected by disasters
  • Assist Trauma Care – offers telephone counselling and support to individuals and families in the aftermath of trauma

For useful information on coping with trauma, see the following websites:

Employers and occupational health

An explanation of occupational health can be found in the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) recognises the value to people’s health and well being that well managed work can bring.

The government has increased its focus on occupational safety and health and its aim of improving access to competent occupational health advice and support, rehabilitation, return to work programmes and early interventions as outlined within its report Health, work and well being – caring for our future: A strategy for the health and well being of working age people.

Regional: Strategic Health Authorities and Regional Public Health Groups

Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) are responsible for managing and setting the strategic direction of the NHS locally. They support PCTs and other NHS organisations and make sure they are performing well.

Specifically with regards to general recovery following an emergency, they:

  • develop plans for improving health services in their area – including strategies for making better use of information technology
  • increase the capacity of local health services so they can provide better care to more people – for instance recruiting more NHS dentists or enabling more GPs and nurses to train in specialist areas such as coronary heart disease and asthma so they can treat more people in the community

SHAs have responsibility for the co-ordination of health services when a major incident impacts on a more widespread level, affecting several hospitals or having a significant impact on primary care. This is carried out in partnership with Directors of Public Health and Regional Public Health Groups.

Regional Public Health Groups are responsible for ensuring effective health protection arrangements are in place across each region. The Regional Director of Public Health has responsibility for emergency planning and works closely with the HPA, NHS, Regional Resilience Teams in Government Office’s (GOs) and other agencies in the event of an emergency.

Lead Government Department

The DH is accountable to the public and the government for the overall performance of the NHS. Its work includes setting national standards and shaping the direction of the NHS and social care services, and promoting healthier living. In the event of an emergency, the department will provide strategic co-ordination of the NHS response. The DH is contactable through Regional Public Health Groups, located within GOs, and Strategic Health Authority Emergency Planning Leads.

Other government involvement

Health Protection Agency

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is an independent organisation dedicated to protecting people’s health in the UK. The agency does this by providing impartial advice and authoritative information on health protection issues to the public, communities, professionals, and to government.

The agency combines public health and scientific expertise, research and emergency planning within one organisation.

The agency’s role includes:

  • providing impartial expert advice on health protection and providing specialist health protection services
  • identifying and responding to health hazards and emergencies caused by infectious disease, hazardous chemicals, poisons or radiation
  • anticipating and preparing for emerging or future threats
  • supporting and advising other organizations with a health protection role
  • improving knowledge about health protection through research and development, education and training

The agency’s expertise is provided by specialist medical, nursing, scientific and technical staff, backed by administrative and support functions. The agency has a network of local and regional teams who work with GPs, hospital clinicians and other healthcare providers.

The agency’s laboratories help in the identification and analysis of disease or environmental samples. The agency has experts who monitor disease trends, chemical specialists who advise on the health effects of environmental hazards and radiological experts who advise on ionizing and non-ionising radiation.

Emergency response teams support the country’s readiness and response to unexpected threats, both natural and deliberate. The agency’s research programmes aim to develop new ways of diagnosing, treating and controlling disease and establish how health is damaged by exposure to harmful substances.

Devolved administrations

Wales

In Wales, health is a function fully devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government. The NHS delivers services through Local Health Boards (LHBs) and NHS Trusts across Wales.

  • Primary care services are provided by general practitioners (GPs) and other health care professionals in health centres and surgeries across Wales
  • Secondary care is delivered through hospital and ambulance services
  • Tertiary care is provided by hospitals which treat particular types of illness such as cancer
  • Community care services are usually provided in partnership with local social services, and delivered to patients in their own homes

The National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) provides the resources, information and advice to enable the Welsh Assembly Government, Health Commission Wales, Local Health Boards, local authorities and NHS Trusts to discharge their statutory public health functions.

To do this, the NPHS delivers a full range of public health services, seeking to:

  • improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales and reduce inequalities in health
  • protect against existing, new and emerging diseases and health threats
  • contribute to improvement in health and social care services

The NPHS is a Category 1 Responder under the Civil Contingencies Act and is an integral member of the Local Resilience Forums (LRFs).

Scotland

Health in Scotland is a devolved matter. Health Protection Scotland works closely with emergency planning partners in Scotland including the Scottish government, NHS Boards, local authorities and emergency services as well as HPA in England and Wales to ensure preparedness for incidents which are likely to severely test the NHS and other public services. It also advises the Scottish government in its overall strategic management of such incidents.

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Funding

Information on Private Medical Insurance can be found in Dealing with insurance issues.

Case studies

Other documents

(i) Psychological Healthcare Needs (including occupational health support):

(ii) Physical healthcare needs

(iii) Longer term health monitoring

Contacts

  • The Samaritans – Offers a 24-hour helpline for those in crisis. Telephone: 08457 909090
  • Cruse– Bereavement Care – Offers counselling, advice and support throughout the UK. Telephone: 0870 167 1677 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm)
  • Disaster Action – Provides support and guidance to those people who are affected by disasters. Telephone: 01483 799 066
  • Assist Trauma Care – Offers telephone counselling and support to individuals and families in the aftermath of trauma. Telephone: 01788 560800 (Helpline).

Displaced communities

Background

There are numerous examples of displaced communities brought on by flooding emergencies in the UK. In almost all cases, displaced families required assistance with accommodation for 6 to 12 months, while homes dried out and were refurbished or rebuilt.

An extreme example is Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005. Evacuees fled to all states across the US during the hurricane event, although some 75% are believed to have stayed within 250 miles of New Orleans. In the neighbouring state of Texas, an estimated 250,000 evacuees tried to move into state identified refuges. Capacity in shelters was over-stretched. Even today many evacuees, scattered throughout the United States, have not returned to their homes.

Other examples of incidents leading to the displacement of communities include the Buncefield oil depot explosion and the Birmingham tornado.

In general, it can be useful to plan to the following assumptions (based on emergencies prior to 2005):

  • for evacuation and emergency sheltering and accommodation, the following assumptions can be used: 60% of impacted people leave the area and stay with relatives/friends (and holiday-makers return home). A further 30% of people use available hotels in safe areas (may need tourists to vacate rooms for local residents). 10% need assisted sheltering
  • in the case of recovery from severe flooding, assume 50% of displaced victims require accommodation for up to 3 months, 30% for up to 6 months, and 20% for up to 12 months
  • a family unit is calculated as an average of 2.5 persons. Therefore, a 1000 displaced people would be 400 family units requiring temporary housing

However, figures may vary significantly from these depending on the scale and nature of the emergency, and the make-up of the community. For example, after the Carlisle flooding in January 2005, those made homeless were out of their homes for an even more extended time-scale:

  • 50% back after 9 months
  • 70% after 12 months
  • 90% after 18 months
  • 20 to 30 properties > 24 months

It is therefore important that local responders are familiar with the make-up of their communities – the ‘Profile’ section of the Community Risk Register may be a good starting point for this.

Policy and guidance

England

Part 7 of the Housing Act 1966, known as ‘the homelessness legislation’, provides a strong safety net (in England and Wales) for people who become homeless through no fault of their own and who fall within various ‘priority need’ groups (eg. families with children). Local authorities have a duty to secure suitable accommodation until a settled home becomes available. The legislation is not principally designed to deal with emergencies but there is specific provision that means authorities will have a duty to secure accommodation for most people who become homeless as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), jointly with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the DH, has issued statutory guidance to local authorities in England about how they should discharge their homelessness functions. The Homelessness Code of Guidance to local authorities (which applies only to England) was issued in July 2006 but does not include any guidance for authorities on dealing with the impact of a large scale emergency.

There are references to the homelessness legislation in the Evacuation and Shelter guidance, issued by the Cabinet Office in October 2006.

During displacement, other practicalities, such as the redirection of mail, will need to be considered. Emergency Royal Mail redirection can be set up through contacting Royal Mail Customer Services, their local Post Office branch or going online to http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm. In the longer term, customers can opt to collect mail from the local delivery office.

In previous incidents, there have been requests to forward mail to emergency or humanitarian assistance centres. It is important to note that this is not an option due to the lack of security at these sites.

Wales

The Code of Guidance for local authorities on Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness gives guidance on how local authorities should discharge their functions and apply the various statutory criteria in practice. It is not a substitute for legislation and in so far as it comments on the law can only reflect the Assembly Government’s understanding of the provisions and the decisions of the courts on the provisions at the time of issue. Decisions on allocations and homelessness should always take account of the guidance in this Code, as they can be challenged unless the authority can show that this has been done. Housing authorities will need to be familiar with the statutory provisions, and keep up to date on any developments in case law.

The Welsh Assembly Government has established a Ten Year Plan which sets out some guiding principles for the development and delivery of homelessness services in Wales. It is a working document and will be continuously reviewed. The Strategic aims underlying this Plan are:

  • preventing homelessness wherever possible
  • working across organisational and policy boundaries
  • placing the service user at the centre of service delivery
  • ensuring social inclusion and equality of access to services
  • making the best use of resources

Scotland

The Scottish Executive has issued statutory guidance to local authorities on how they should discharge their duties under homelessness legislation. The Code of Guidance on Homelessness was published in May 2005 and is available on the Scottish executive website.

The legislation places statutory duties on local authorities to provide assistance to people experiencing homelessness or threatened with homelessness (within 2 months). The legislation is not principally designed to deal with emergency planning but all homeless households are entitled to a minimum of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance and those in ‘priority need’ groups and unintentionally homeless are entitled to permanent accommodation. The Code does not include any guidance on dealing with the impact of a large scale emergency.

Northern Ireland

The Health and Social Care Trusts are responsible for providing immediate short-term care for people displaced by an emergency. Provision of accommodation for the long-term homeless is the responsibility of the NIHE.

The NIHE annually review and publish ‘Operational Procedures for Displaced Families’, which provides guidance on arrangements for situations in Northern Ireland where people are displaced from their homes.

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

As set out in chapter 5 of Evacuation and Shelter, local authorities are responsible for co-ordinating welfare support for their communities in the event of an emergency.

This will include providing temporary shelter (rest centres) and meeting any need for temporary accommodation where evacuation is extended. Local authority emergency planners will need to draw on contacts and resources across the responding agencies, voluntary sector and private/commercial organisations.

Statutory responsibility for assisting people who are homeless, or likely to become homeless within 28 days, rests with local housing authorities. Housing authorities are required to have a strategy for ensuring that accommodation and support will be available for people in their district who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, and are expected to work closely with a wide range of other bodies, including social services and the voluntary sector, to deliver this.

Local authorities (both housing and social services authorities), registered social landlords and housing trusts have a duty to co-operate in providing assistance, on request, where a housing authority seeks help to discharge its homelessness functions – insofar as is reasonable in the circumstances. In some areas, the housing authority may have contracted-out the management of some or all of its homelessness functions (for example, to a registered social landlord).

Lead Government Department

DCLG has policy responsibility for homelessness in England. However, responsibility for responding to homelessness on the ground rests with local housing authorities, and DCLG has no formal role other than to set national policy, oversee the strategic framework, and provide guidance to local authorities.

Devolved administrations

Wales

There are no differences in Wales.

Scotland

In Scotland, the statutory duty to assist households who are homeless or threatened with homelessness rests with local authorities. National policy responsibility for homelessness rests with the Housing and Regeneration Directorate of the Scottish Executive.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCTs) have primary responsibility for providing for the welfare needs of displaced communities. For short-term displacements, the HSCTs will work with district councils and other providers of temporary accommodation to provide immediate shelter and other basic needs. The HSCTs will also work with the voluntary sector to provide both practical and psycho-social support.

For longer term displacements, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) has statutory responsibility for accommodating homeless people. NIHE would work closely with HSCTs to move people as quickly as possible from temporary shelters to more permanent accommodation if a displacement seemed likely to be prolonged.

Displaced people may be eligible for Social Fund or other support from the Social Security Agency (SSA). The SSA would work closely with other responders to provide information and assist with claims.

For events with Regional significance, the overall Lead Government Department (LGD) would depend on the cause and impact of the emergency. NI departments with policy responsibility for HSCTs (Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety) and NIHE / SSA (Department for Social Development) would provide support and co-ordination within their sectors as required.

Funding

The principal source of funding for local authority homelessness services is provided through unhypothecated block grant (revenue support grant). There is also a limited programme of homelessness grants paid to local authorities to support and encourage their work to prevent homelessness.

Devolved administrations

Wales

In Wales, local authorities are also funded through Revenue Support Grant and a range of homelessness grants made by the Welsh Assembly Government

Scotland

Local authorities in Scotland receive grant funding from the Scottish Executive to prevent and tackle homelessness. This funding is intended to support local authorities’ discharge of their statutory responsibilities and delivery of their homelessness strategies and does not include provision for dealing with large-scale emergencies. The Scottish Executive will consider any requests for additional funding on a case by case basis but it must be made clear that such cases are not guaranteed to be successful.

Northern Ireland

Funding for homeless services in Northern Ireland is provided from the Department for Social Development (DSD) to the NIHE. Any unexpected expenditure as a result of an emergency would in the first instance be the responsibility of the NIHE, which if necessary would have to bid to DSD for additional funding through normal public expenditure mechanisms.

Case studies

Contacts

Foreign nationals

Background

Depending on the nature of the emergency, the involvement of foreign nationals may not be readily apparent either during the response or recovery phases. But where possible, it is important that responders identify the nationality of those involved.

As is the case with everyone affected, foreign nationals may be among the fatalities, casualties or witnesses of the emergency. Whilst everyone caught up in an emergency will be treated equally, nationality will have an impact on certain aspects of the response and recovery phase.

For example, all foreign nationals who require consular assistance should be directed to the nearest diplomatic/consular post or representative (eg. Honorary Consul) of their national government (see list of contacts below). Although foreign nationals are under no obligation to make contact with such a representative, this should be encouraged and assistance in obtaining the details should be given (see list of contacts below). In addition, where a crime is suspected, and an individual is arrested, the government is obliged to notify the appropriate diplomatic mission, whether in London or non-resident overseas, of the detention.

If foreign nationals should lose their documentation (passports, etc.) as a result of an incident, they should be directed to their relevant Foreign Embassy.

The handling of foreign nationals in a crisis may, in an extreme situation, affect international relations, and/or trade, and this possibility should be borne in mind by local responders. If there is any reason to believe that an emerging situation might create such overtones, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should be alerted.

Foreign Embassies and High Commissions in London will inevitably monitor any developing emergency situations within the UK, and may ask for information, whether or not they believe/suspect any of their nationals are involved.

UK policy and guidance

England

Benefits

Stranded foreign nationals would not normally be entitled to Benefits (including Social Fund). People who are subject to immigration control (ie. those whose leave to enter or remain in the UK is subject to a ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition) are excluded. For European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and UK nationals from abroad, the habitual residence test would normally apply.

The support that could be made available would be:

  • if the period was likely to be short, access to crisis loans might be the best approach
  • if the period was likely to last for several weeks / months, then access to Income Support might be more suitable

This would require:

  • Home Office to give leave to remain in a form which would give access to benefit,
  • lifting of the habitual residence test where needed (a change to Department for Work and Pensions regulations), and
  • possibly changes to crisis loan arrangements (a change to Social Fund Directions) or to Income Support rules (a change to Department for Work and Pensions regulations)

Health

Regardless of residential status or nationality, emergency treatment given at Primary Care Practices (a GP) or in Accident and Emergency departments or a Walk-in Centre providing services similar to those of a hospital Accident and Emergency department is free of charge.

Primary Care: Entitlement to free NHS Primary Medical Services (GP Practices)

Primary medical care contractors (GPs) are self-employed and have contracts with the local Primary Care Trust to provide services for the National Health Service. Under the terms of those contracts, GPs have a measure of discretion in accepting applications to join their patient lists.

Regulations 1 provide GP practices with wide discretion in accepting or declining applications to join their lists of NHS patients. GP practices are expected to exercise their discretion in a non-discriminatory way, with sensitivity and due regards to all the circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Secondary Care

In order for a person not ordinarily resident in the UK (ie an ‘overseas visitor’) to access NHS hospital treatment free of charge, they must meet the criteria for one of the exemptions from charge categories within the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended. These regulations place a legal duty on NHS trusts to establish ‘by means of such enquiries as it is satisfied are reasonable in all the circumstances’ the eligibility of each patient to free secondary care.

One exemption category is for any overseas visitor who is taking up (or resuming) permanent residence in the UK. They must have the lawful right to reside in the UK and it must be their intention to live here for the time being. As detailed above for primary care, those evacuated would have to have, or to be given by the Home Office, the right to reside in the UK for this exemption category to take effect.

Evidence of a permanent move having been made is usually required for this exemption category (such as selling of overseas property, shipping of goods etc

Fatalities (England and Wales)

If one or more foreign nationals are killed in a disaster involving mass fatalities, the police and the coroner will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death as they would for a British national. Every effort will be made to identify the deceased and contact the next of kin, as necessary, through contact with consular officials. The coroner will arrange for a post-mortem examination to be performed (in certain circumstances more than one may be necessary) and then once the body is no longer required, it may be released to the next of kin for funeral purposes. If the body is to be taken out of England and Wales, the coroner will issue an Out of England Order to indicate that he no longer needs the body.

Wales

No difference of approach. The FCO will keep the relevant DA informed, and vice versa, where incidents involving foreign nationals occur in devolved areas.

Scotland

No difference in approach in Scotland.

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

NHS and Community Care Act 1990

Under Section 47 of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990, local authority social services departments are responsible for assessing the needs of people who may need care services. The social services department must arrange any services.

National Assistance Act 1948

Under the National Assistance Act (NAA) 1948, local authority social services departments are responsible for arranging social care for people who are eligible to receive services. Ordinarily, persons who are subject to immigration control are ineligible for support if their need for care and attention arose solely as a result of destitution. They would have to demonstrate they are suffering from destitution, plus additional causes of their need for care.

Government involvement

With the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), FCO has successfully developed its responses and service to the Diplomatic Community in the form of ‘Project Hermes’. Project Hermes integrates information from the MPS and HM Government and transmits it, via a number of e-communications methods, direct to Diplomatic Missions in London. It is a joint MPS and FCO initiative to provide accurate and timely information to the diplomatic community following a Mass Casualty Incident. Under the initiative, the diplomatic community will be notified of such an incident within minutes, followed by regular updates about the incident as it unfolds.

It is not the role of the Casualty Bureau to answer enquiries. Its systems are not focussed towards this and outgoing casualty information is transmitted via the Family Liaison Officer Team and not the Casualty Bureau. Casualty information is not released until it is verified and its release authorised. That authority comes from the Senior Identification Manager (SIM), working with HM Coroner and, in the case of criminal enquiries, the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO). Under Project Hermes, the Met Police (DPG) working with FCO (Protocol Directorate) access and collate information at the earliest possible stage, following a mass casualty incident, and transmit it in 4 ways to previously identified points of contact in each Diplomatic Mission in London:

  • SMS text
  • DPG Secure Bulletin Board (web)
  • FCO/Protocol emergency email system
  • Protocol secure web site

With these arrangements, we are able to transmit information to Diplomatic Missions as soon as we reliably can. Family Liaison Officers, whose contact with the Diplomatic Community will be facilitated by DPG, will deliver specific notifications about individuals.

Devolved administrations

Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government will act in the same way as the GOs in England and co-ordinate any regional response required in Wales.

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Funding

Other than any medical care which will be provided by the Department for Health, there is no long term funding to assist foreign nationals who are distressed because of an emergency situation, either in the UK, or for the purposes of repatriation. All costs remain their responsibility.

In the case of a terrorist attack or other crime, foreign nationals would be eligible to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Devolved administrations

Wales

Health is a devolved function in Wales and medical care will be the responsibility of the relevant devolved administration.

Scotland

Funding for NHS in Scotland comes from the Scottish government and is distributed to Health Boards on a formula basis. There is no long term funding to assist foreign nationals. That will remain their own responsibility.

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Contacts

The London Diplomatic List is an alphabetical list of the representatives of Foreign States and Commonwealth Countries in London with contact details for their Diplomatic Staff.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office switchboard number – 020 7008 1500

Community engagement

Background

Experience has shown that it is vital for responders to involve the community affected in the recovery process from the outset of any emergency, and that this can help enable an efficient and rapid return as possible to normality.

For example, an early public meeting can allow people to air their concerns and opinions; help the community to come to terms with the consequences of the emergency; and empower people to influence the scope and order of priorities in the recovery process. Depending on the nature of the incident, the inclusion of representatives from local faith communities and other relevant groups should be considered, as they can often be the key link to minority groups, especially where there are language difficulties and sensitivity issues.

It is also vital, for economic and social reasons, to establish a pro-active and integrated framework of support to businesses in the affected area.

The elected members of the community affected have a duty as community representatives to act as a conduit for information between their communities and local responders. As civic leaders, they are involved with many aspects of community life and can provide a focus for gathering community concerns, as well as providing a mechanism for responders to get information out to the public. Therefore, their inclusion in any community discussion is essential.

The benefits of a perceived ‘good’ response can be undermined by poor recovery management. The reconstruction and restoration of amenities and normal services needs to be managed effectively and transparently with due consideration given to the wishes of the community.

Policy and guidance

England

Wales

The documents published for England are equally applicable to Wales

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 places a duty on Category 1 Responders to supply information to the public before, during, and after an emergency, and as lead responders, Local Authorities should engage fully with the community and elected members at all levels in the recovery process.

The public will accept and make allowances for a period of disruption for a short time only, and Local Authorities will be under pressure to restore any services interrupted by the incident. Expectations will rise as time progresses and the Authority will need to demonstrate that it is coping, enhancing public confidence.

The formation of a non-executive Community Recovery Committee that will reflect community concerns and feelings is considered to be essential in bringing these to the attention of the Recovery Co-ordinating Group.

A public meeting should be considered at an early stage. Experience shows that having separate meetings for affected residents and businesses can be particularly useful, bearing in mind their differing information requirements. Any meeting should be as structured as possible; include presentations on the situation at that time; and involve senior representatives from all the agencies involved who need to be able to answer questions authoritatively. These senior representatives should preferably be members of the Recovery Co-ordinating Group, and be clear about the agreed multi-agency strategy, actions and messages.

Other effective methods for engaging the community during the recovery phase which should be instigated immediately include:

  • working with the media, who can be very helpful in putting out public information (as they are during the emergency phase). The Communications Group needs to keep in close contact with all parts of the media.
  • establishing neighbourhood forums/drop in points to allow members of the public access to information and assistance on the whole range of problems that they may be experiencing. Focal points for assistance may be based in the communities that have been affected and/or where they have been relocated.

Consideration should be given to the use of mobile units if other facilities are rendered unusable. In a wide area incident a central location easily accessible by public transport might be established as a one-stop-shop. Staff from a range of different agencies should be available (either by being present or by being contactable and involved) to answer questions and advise. Issues may include:

  • Information specific to the emergency
  • Housing
  • Financial
  • Health concerns
  • Transport
  • Employment
  • Benefits
  • Educational
  • Spiritual
  • Insurance claims
  • Welfare issues

One of the most important facilities to provide will be to enable people to talk about their experiences. There are many organisations able to assist in this regard, in addition to local authority staff, namely; British Red Cross; WRVS; Churches; Primary Care Trusts; Citizens Advice Bureaux; Community Law Centres; Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships; youth workers; Mind; Age Concern and so on, many of which will be acting on a voluntary basis.

  • Workshops or facilitating self-help or interest groups to address individual or collective issues, ideally held in community facilities, can also be helpful. This might involve specialist agencies to deal with those issues identified above
  • Pre-prepared statements can be used to put across information and facts to the media and the public
  • If communities have been relocated, action plans will need to be drawn up for the period that they have been relocated and also as reoccupation takes place. Those affected should be involved in the process of drawing up these action plans. Children and older people are particularly affected by relocation. Older people lose their support mechanisms such as their neighbours and young people lose access to their local friendship groups
  • It is important that spokespersons have the trust of the target audience. Using trusted members of the community and nationally respected individuals can assist in communicating in an effective manner

Much work can be undertaken before the event. This must ensure that the public, in the broadest sense of the word, are informed not only about the emergency planning and recovery arrangements in place in their area, but also about specific sites or risks that may affect them. Indeed, this is a requirement of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, which places a duty on Category 1 Responders to supply information to the public before during and after an emergency.

Lead Government Department

There is no specific LGD for community engagement, although clearly many departments will have an interest. The GO will normally provide the conduit for communication with central government departments with a role to assist in community recovery.

Devolved administrations

Wales

[TBC]

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Funding

Initial funding will come from lead and partner agencies, especially for staff time and resources. As action plans are drawn up, project funding may be the subject of a bid to government or other organisation / funding programme. Contact should be established with GOs as soon as possible in order that they can facilitate this process by liaising with all relevant government departments.

Experience has demonstrated that a series of support mechanisms can be established for businesses. There are established and tested routes for funding bids.

The potential length of the recovery process is significant and this should be appreciated by responding agencies. When seeking funding to establish and maintain the support facilities and staffing mentioned in this guidance, experience strongly recommends that it is sought for at least a full year, initially, so that staff involved and the communities affected are secure in the knowledge of that support.

Devolved administrations

Wales

[TBC]

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Case studies

Other documents

Contacts

[TBC]

Commemoration

Background

Commemoration, whether it be a one-off event such as a memorial service or anniversary event, or a more permanent physical memorial to remember an event or those affected by it, is an important part of the recovery process. Commemoration gives an emergency recognition and can aid those affected as part of the moving on process, particularly when those affected are able to be involved in the planning.

Individuals and communities affected in an emergency will commemorate their loss in a way which is appropriate to them. However, the involvement of a separate agency might be necessary in order to facilitate any commemoration ceremonies which draw together everyone who has been affected.

Where commemoration events are planned by responding agencies, the views and wishes of those directly affected should actively be sought in the planning process. In Anne Eyre’s Literature and best practice review (PDF, 842KB, 112 pages) , she considers the importance of commemoration, and outlines some principles which may be helpful for responders.

Memorial events

Memorial events may take place at the disaster sites; within local communities; or at a national level and often occur some time after the initial aftermath for a number of reasons. Events might also be arranged around the time of anniversaries.

For those involved in preparing these, great care should be taken to ensure communications are sensitively planned and managed. Consideration should be given to the following issues:

  • identifying the right time, date and location - these decisions should be taken with care to ensure inclusiveness wherever possible. For example, the date chosen may be significant to the situation, and should probably not have any other (such as religious) significance
  • cultural and religious considerations - the venue and content of any event may or may not involve a religious element
  • identifying guests and drawing up invitation lists - it is extremely important that the invitation process is transparent and if possible, inclusive of all bereaved families, and possibly others affected. An awareness of the sensitivities and needs of groups of people affected in different ways by the emergency (whether through bereavement, direct experience, in a responding capacity, or whether part of a community more broadly affected) will be important to enable sensitive planning - for example, in relation to how people are invited and where people are seated
  • involving those affected in planning - for example, through shaping the content of the event; participation in an act of remembrance; or through suggestions for readings
  • recognition of those who may have died - this might include reading names out as part of the service
  • inviting VIPs and local or national dignitaries - whilst some people might feel that VIPs bring recognition to an event, others may prefer to keep invitations to a minimum. Decisions should be taken on an informed basis and according to the objective of the event
  • catering and other logistical arrangements, such as plans stating whether guests will be recompensed for travel expenses
  • security and access considerations - tickets can help control access, and create appropriate seating plans. Parking should be made available. A police presence might be desirable
  • the presence on the day of people who can work with the media and protect people from any unwanted interest

Spontaneous memorials

Experience has shown that spontaneous memorials, including tributes such as flowers, teddy bears, and cards, often spring up around sites associated with the tragedy. Responding agencies should plan for this, and be aware of the symbolic importance and emotion that will be attached to the management of such tributes. Voluntary agencies are often able to assist in this regard, and a number have useful experience to offer.

For example, a number of measures were adopted after 7 July to manage the many tributes left across London. A couple of weeks after the bombings, flowers left at Liverpool Street station were moved to the London Memorial Garden at Victoria Embankment Gardens; those which had withered were composted and returned to London’s green spaces. The written tributes, such as cards, were kept by London Underground. The general public were kept informed of these activities through public statements and signs erected in the localities. This involved multi-agency planning, and assistance from a number of voluntary agencies.

After the death of Princess Diana in 1997, The Royal Parks and Gardens managed the floral tributes left by members of the public both in the Mall and in Green Park, St James’ Park and Kensington Gardens. The flowers were mulched and added to the Royal Parks. The voluntary sector assisted, for example, by helping to move the flowers and sorting them from the written tributes and cards, all of which were put with the memorial books kept at St James’ Palace. Toys were distributed to hospitals and children’s’ facilities.

Permanent memorials

The creation of a permanent memorial will often require management by the local authority, which is likely to become involved in a number of ways, including in terms of its planning functions.

Key considerations in planning may involve:

  • establishing a project structure which incorporates a mechanism for involving those directly affected in the emergency
  • identifying funding at an early stage
  • producing a communications plan, and drawing upon media expertise
  • considering and planning procurement options
  • conducting appropriate stakeholder consultation
  • managing applications for planning permission
  • deciding on a design
  • planning for an opening ceremony

In the past, government has been involved in arranging National Memorial Services for some large emergencies such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami on 26 December 2004, when over 150 Britons died, and the London bombings on 7 July 2005, when 52 people were killed. The government has also contributed towards some permanent memorials, including to those who died in the US attacks on 11 September 2001, and to those who died in the Bali bombings in 2002.

Policy and guidance

England

In August 2006, DCMS published an independent Literature Review which looks at the needs of people affected by emergencies over the past forty years and offers some practical recommendations about how responders can best plan for a humanitarian response to any future emergencies:

The Highways Agency does not support spontaneous memorials (ie. walls of flowers) on their network for obvious safety reasons, not only to the travelling public but for those that may want to stop on the network. Local Authorities may take a different approach but clearly it is a sensitive subject and should be treated as such.

Wales

[TBC]

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

Local responders should be aware of the importance of recognition and commemoration to those affected. Regional and local partners should work with affected families and individuals as well as other relevant organisations including community groups, the voluntary sector, and faith communities.

Lead Government Department

Central government does not have a specific responsibility to commemorate any emergencies, other than its traditional recognition of Remembrance Sunday each November and no single department has responsibility for memorials. However, the Minister for Humanitarian Assistance in the DCMS would lead within government in respect to any involvement in the development of a permanent memorial to those affected in an emergency.

Devolved administrations

Wales

[TBC]

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Funding

In the past, a number of memorials have relied upon a mixed funding model, including various sources such as private sector contribution, personal donations, local government contribution, and central funding from a number of government departments.

Devolved administrations

Wales

[TBC]

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Case studies

Other documents

  • Literature and best practice review (PDF, 842KB, 112 pages) – identifying people’s needs in major emergencies and best practice in humanitarian response, Dr Anne Eyre for DCMS, August 2006

Contacts

Humanitarian Assistance Unit
Department for Culture Media & Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London
SW1Y 5DH
Telephone: 020 7211 6200

Community cohesion

Background

Previous emergencies, such as the London bombings in 2005, have highlighted that some emergencies have the potential to result in heightened tensions between different communities.

The definition of community cohesion established by the Local Government Association and partners in 2002, sees a cohesive community as one where:

  • there is a common vision and a sense of belonging
  • the diversity of people’s different backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and positively valued
  • those from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities
  • strong and positive relationships are being developed between people from different backgrounds and circumstances in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods

To help mitigate these risks to cohesion, the DCLG has been working alongside the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) National Community Tensions Team (NCTT), GOs and other organisations such as the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to provide guidance to local authorities in developing local community tension monitoring arrangements and cohesion contingency plans.

The guidance - Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring is a web based tool.

Wales

Getting On Together - a Community Cohesion Strategy for Wales - is part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s One Wales commitment to achieve a fair and just society, a place where all citizens are empowered to determine their own lives and shape the communities in which they live.

The Strategy was issued in December 2009 and funding of £5 million over three years has been made available to local authorities to help them identify and take action on local cohesion issues. Local cohesion partnerships have been formed in all local authorities and these involve Communities First partnerships and relevant third sector organisations.

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

Every GO has a regional cohesion lead who can offer practical advice and guidance to local authorities in relation to cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring. They will be the first port of call for local authorities in developing plans and we recommend that tension monitoring reports are shared with them. GO cohesion leads ought to be alerted to escalating tensions and when local cohesion contingency plans are triggered.

Lead Government Department

The DCLG (Cohesion and Faiths Unit) act as LGD for community cohesion incidents.

The GO cohesion leads in the relevant GO will normally provide the conduit for communication with DCLG (see contacts below).

Case studies

Other documents

Contacts

Non-health needs of people

Background

Experience from previous emergencies has shown that specific attention is required by the responding agencies on meeting the medium and longer term needs of the people affected (directly and indirectly). Evidence and common sense suggests that the sooner people’s needs are addressed and catered for, the better the prospect for individual and community recovery. After an emergency, responders should therefore consider the humanitarian response as a priority, recognising that a new constituency of people will have been formed that require, and have an entitlement to, appropriate assistance.

From the community profiles produced as part of the Community Risk Register process, local responders will have a good understanding of the make-up of their local community. However, people’s needs will be various, emerging and change over time. Many of these needs will be for services which local authorities and other partner agencies routinely provide – such as welfare support; special needs support; and access / signposting to existing sources of assistance. Other needs may be outside the scope of normal agency business, but will still need to be met in a co-ordinated and timely fashion. Further, people’s ability to meet their own needs and support one another without (or with low levels of) external intervention should be recognised; involving a community in its recovery and facilitating self-support has been shown to help individuals and communities achieve a ‘new normal’.

Definition of ‘humanitarian assistance’

Humanitarian assistance (as defined by Anne Eyre, 2007) refers to those activities aimed at meeting the needs of people affected by emergencies. In particular this includes:

  • those elements of planning, training and exercising aimed at meeting people’s practical and emotional needs
  • response activities focusing on meeting people’s needs during and immediately after emergencies
  • the co-ordination and provision of psychological and social aftercare for those affected in the weeks, months and years that follow

Needs of people

Of key importance in the planning stage is that all agencies and individuals involved recognise the high trauma and stress that those affected may have experienced; and the need for a wide range of organisations to have appropriate plans in place to provide an appropriate response. It is imperative that organisations ensure staff are adequately trained, informed, supervised and supported throughout, as they will be affected by their involvement and if emergency responders are unsupported, they risk experiencing secondary trauma themselves.

A wide and diverse range of agencies in the UK offer assistance, advice and support to people on a routine basis and have the capability to play a key role in the recovery phase. Planning should cover anything which people are likely to need in the immediate days, weeks and months after the emergency. This package of care will necessarily involve a range of agencies working together. The exact focus and nature of provision will depend on the type of emergency, the impact it has had on the community, and people’s needs.

Communities may be affected in different ways. For example, where those affected are predominantly from one community, there may be heightened fear, anger and the need for targeted support. A Community Impact Assessment (CIA) is a vital element in both ensuring the most effective and appropriate response to those affected by the emergency and in retaining the trust and confidence of the wider community. Depending on the nature of the emergency, either the local authority or Police will lead the assessment. Some information about CIAs is available in topic ‘Impact Assessments’ (see below), but likely needs will include:

  • shelter
  • provision of information about what has happened
  • ‘hand-holding through’ or sophisticated signposting’ to systems of support and advice, and direction and assistance on how to access support
  • access to financial assistance and advice (benefits / Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as appropriate)
  • help with legal and insurance issues
  • provisions for health and rehabilitation issues
  • psychological / counselling provisions for mental health issues including trauma
  • support and assistance in managing media interest
  • family support
  • emotional support
  • communication facilitation – allowing people to meet each other, possibly facilitation of ‘support’ or ‘storytelling’ groups
  • where relevant, a link to any ongoing police investigation
  • a point of contact for longer-term support and advice

Some further information about Community Impact Assessments is available in the Humanitarian Assistance in Emergencies Guidance.

Meeting needs

A wide and diverse range of agencies in the UK offer assistance, advice and support to people on a routine basis and have the capability to play a key role in the recovery phase. Planning should cover anything which people are likely to need in the immediate days, weeks and months after the emergency. This package of care will necessarily involve a range of agencies working together. The exact focus and nature of provision will depend on the type of emergency, the impact it has had on the community, and people’s needs.

A number of organisations operate as national networks and may be able to help include statutory agencies such as JobCentre Plus and the Citizens Advice Bureau, and voluntary sector agencies. Local community networks, schools, centres of faith and community groups might also participate in an appropriate response.

Mechanisms and structures which might play a role in the provision of an appropriate response in the short, medium and long term include:

  • Police Casualty Bureau and Family Liaison Officers (to collate information about and identify missing persons, and to provide a link to any criminal investigation, but with the capacity to signpost other sources of support)
  • support-line (telephone assistance)
  • a website detailing information, advice and support available
  • a Humanitarian Assistance Centre
  • a trained ‘emergency or crisis response team’
  • others from voluntary / private sector who can contribute to elements of the recovery

Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide welfare support and will take a lead role both at the strategic and operational levels in the recovery phase. Category 1 responders should ensure they are aware of the activities and roles of Category 2 responders, such as Transport Operators, some of whom will have their own plans for meeting the needs of those affected.

The ability to be effective in reaching out to everyone affected in the recovery phase may well depend on the collation of information and contact details in the response phase. Information should be shared, where appropriate, between agencies whose aim is to provide information, assistance or advice to those who have been affected. Sharing contact details allows agencies to proactively reach people who may welcome help, and allows the individual to choose whether or not to take up offers of assistance.

In putting together plans for humanitarian response, planners should note that any emergency occurring in the United Kingdom is likely to involve a diverse community with different needs based upon a wide range of factors. Local responders will be best placed to identify the needs of those affected taking into account cultural factors, such as language, faith and belief, and other needs. All support should be appropriate and based on knowledge about the community and the diverse needs of its population.

Policy and guidance

England

Wales

No difference for Wales.

Scotland

  • Preparing Scotland recommends that welfare arrangements for victims, survivors and emergency response staff must be considered should be considered as a generic capability when planning.
  • Scottish report – exposing the flood risk of Scotland
  • Scotland – Humanitarian Assistance Project, run by the Scottish government

Northern Ireland

The principles set out in the documents above apply to Northern Ireland but because of the different statutory and organisational position, different organisations will be involved. The roles and responsibilities of Northern Ireland organisations in relation to civil contingencies are set out in The Northern Ireland Civil Contingencies Framework and A Guide to Emergency Planning Arrangements in Northern Ireland. A Guide to Evacuation in Northern Ireland gives guidance on providing welfare support to people affected by emergencies.

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

Under the Local Government Act 2000, Local Authorities have a responsibility to ensure the economic, social and environmental well-being of the community that they serve. In emergencies, Local Authorities support the emergency services in mitigating its effects, co-ordinate the provision of welfare support to the community; lead the establishment of key humanitarian assistance facilities; and take on a leading role in the recovery phase of emergencies.

Individual Local Authorities will have to decide upon arrangements to carry out this function taking into account its local government structure, its arrangements under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and the provision of the Children’s Act 2004. The appropriate Councils and their departments should work closely with the various health agencies and other relevant organisations in all aspects of emergency planning and response. Reports from recent public inquiries have identified a role for support agencies such as Adult and Children’s Social Care departments.

Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) are deployed by the police to work with families bereaved through crime, road accidents, and sometimes with people who have been seriously injured in a criminal incident. Their role is to facilitate the investigation by close contact with relatives of those killed, but they also, inevitably, become a source of real support and comfort to ‘their’ families. The decision to deploy FLOs in the aftermath of an emergency will be taken by the police SIM, in consultation with the SIO and the overall incident commander (Gold).

The voluntary sector contribution to and involvement in emergency planning, response and recovery in the UK is large and diverse, offering a range of skills and expertise. Those preparing plans should be aware of the wide spectrum of operational and support activities provided by the voluntary organisations and volunteers. These include:

  • established groups such as the British Red Cross, WRVS, Salvation Army, St John Ambulance, Victim Support Services, Disaster Action and CRUSE Bereavement Care, providing a range of services (more info about each can be found in A detailed guide to roles and responsibilities in humanitarian assistance (PDF, 193KB, 27 pages)

  • individual volunteers with particular skills, not necessarily members of an established organisation, such as representatives of the faith communities and interpreters
  • organisations that specialise in emotional support, such as Samaritans

Family support groups

Following the disasters of the 1980s, and subsequently, a number of family support groups have been formed consisting primarily of survivors and friends and families of those killed. Their main functions have largely been to offer each other mutual emotional support, to seek answers relating to questions of responsibility for the disasters and to work on preventing similar disasters from happening in the future.

In 1991, the charity Disaster Action was formed. Disaster Action acts as an umbrella organisation to represent the common problems faced by disaster groups in dealing with statutory and other organisations following a disaster.

Membership consists of people who have had direct experience spanning the majority of major emergencies which have occurred in the UK since 1966. Disaster Action provides practical and emotional support to those directly affected by a major emergency. Disaster Action also provides continuing advice to emergency management organisations to ensure that they take into account the immediate and longer term needs of those most affected by a disaster or catastrophic incident.

Lead Government Department

The role of the Minister for Humanitarian Assistance, and the DCMS, is to ensure that the needs of British people affected by emergencies are understood and properly considered within government in building preparedness for and responding to emergencies, and to represent the government and explain its policies when dealing with victims and their families.

The three key aspects of DCMS work on humanitarian assistance are:

  • improving contingency planning ahead of future incidents – either in the UK or overseas
  • helping to co-ordinate the emergency response in the period immediately following an incident
  • facilitating aftercare for victims in the months that follow – acting as a direct point of contact and support in government

DCMS have developed a series of general aftercare web pages to provide the public with practical information in the medium and longer term following a major emergency. The pages also signpost individuals to sources of additional support available - www.direct.gov.uk/helpafterincident

Other government involvement

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides support for people seeking employment and administers social security benefits through its agencies – JobCentre Plus, the Pensions Service and the Disability and Carers Service. The Child Support Agency (CSA) deals with child support matters. The department has a national network of offices. Further details of DWP’s services and organisation are available on the DWP website.

The FCO is a network of people working in the UK and in over 200 Embassies and Consulates abroad. Providing high quality services to the public around the world is a top priority for the FCO. This includes helping UK citizens abroad, issuing passports and giving travel advice. When a consular emergency occurs, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, the FCO’s London-based Crisis Management Team takes the lead in responding to provide fast consular assistance to British nationals overseas. This response might include sending a Rapid Deployment Team to help, opening the Consular Emergency Unit, or evacuating British nationals.

Devolved administrations

Where incidents occur in devolved areas, DCMS will work closely with the devolved administration concerned in dealing with victims and their families.

Wales

As above.

Scotland

As above.

Northern Ireland

Responsibility for providing welfare support to people affected by emergencies, including during the recovery phase (which for some people may be many years) rests with Health and Social Care Trusts. In providing this care, Health and Social Care Trusts will normally work with partner organisations, including district councils and voluntary bodies.

The Northern Ireland district councils do not have a general community wellbeing duty as described above for England.

The Social Security Agency would provide emergency benefits payments to people affected by emergencies, through its district offices or community assistance centres if established.

The NIHE has statutory responsibility for providing accommodation for homeless persons. It would work closely with the Health and Social Care Trusts on provision of accommodation to people displaced on a medium-to-long-term from their normal accommodation.

In a regional emergency affecting the welfare of a large number of people, the parent departments of these organisations would work closely with them to co-ordinate action. A lead government would be determined depending on the cause and impact of the particular event.

Funding

Local Authorities will be ultimately responsible for meeting the costs of providing for people’s needs in the event of an emergency. However, it is important to adopt a multi-agency approach to this task in both the planning and response phases. Where a local authority has significant concerns about the cost implications of this, early contact should be made with the Government Liaison Officer based at the local Strategic Co-ordinating Group (and subsequently, the Recovery Co-ordination Group).

During the planning phase, Local Authorities should consider entering into agreements with voluntary agencies to provide certain aspects of assistance in the event that a Humanitarian Assistance Centre is established. Where such agreements are entered into, these should be built on shared expectations as to what, if any, costs will be reimbursed. Consideration should be given to involving local businesses in plans, as they may be well placed to donate funding and/or resources (particularly furniture and equipment). Wherever possible, standing contracts should be entered into, since these can significantly reduce costs. Planning on a regional basis can also enable costs to be pooled.

Devolved administrations

Wales

Emergency financial assistance in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government. Further details on this scheme can be found in the Financial Impact on Local Authorities. Where a local authority has significant concerns about the cost implications, it should liaise directly with the Welsh Assembly Government.

Scotland

Significant concerns about cost implications should be discussed with the Scottish government.

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Case studies

Other documents

Contacts

Humanitarian Assistance Unit
Department for Culture Media & Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London
SW1Y 5DH
Telephone: 020 7211 6200

Financial support for individuals

Background

Financial support is provided from a range of sources, at both local and national level. However the levels and type of financial assistance available varies and is dependant on a number of factors such as location of the incident, level of insurance cover, nature and impact of the incident, role of the local authority in developing a disaster appeal, level of public interest and benefit entitlement.

Work is being done in a number of areas:

  • changes have been made to the processes involved in the UK’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) in light of comments from previous applicants. Following the 7th July London bombings, the CICS is also re-writing its emergency incidents plan, in communication with other agencies.
  • Disaster Appeals/Charitable Funds – disaster funds have been established after a numbers of emergencies both in the UK and overseas; and previous emergencies, including a number of the disasters in the 1980s, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and the 7 July bombings have shown that effective establishment and management requires careful planning and sensitive application.
  • compensation for victims of terrorism overseas – In January 2010 the Home Secretary announced a prospective scheme to compensate British Nationals affected by terrorism overseas. Providing that this becomes statute, there will be associated provision for victims of terrorism still suffering hardship from overseas terrorist incidents since January 2002. Details of this time-limited scheme will be announced in due course.
  • Charitable Fund for Victims of Overseas Terrorism – this fund is administered by the British Red Cross and was launched on the 17 May 2007. It aims to address the immediate short-term financial needs of those affected by overseas terrorist incidents
  • travel insurance

Policy and guidance

England

Compensation

Guidance on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme can be found on the CICA website or on the Home Office website. This includes guidance on:

  • who is eligible
  • expected payments
  • how to apply
  • how to appeal decisions

Compensation is available to all victims of violent crime, which occurs in the UK. The original scheme was introduced in 1964, with compensation being paid on an ex-gratia (non statutory) basis. The Scheme was made statutory in 1996 (following passage of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act1995).

Compensation for victims injured or bereaved in criminal acts overseas is not available through the CICA. UK victims of overseas terrorism which occurs within the EU (and a few other countries) are eligible for compensation under the compensation arrangements in the EU member state (or other country) where they were injured (or killed).

Under European Council Directive 2004/80/EC of 29 April 2004, all EU member states are required to have arrangements:

  • (from 1 July 2005) which provide ‘fair and appropriate’ compensation to victims of violent intentional crime committed within their territory, and
  • (from 1 January 2006) to facilitate access to compensation for its residents in cross-border situations (ie to accept applications from its residents and pass them on for consideration by the member state where the injury was sustained).

Further information on the directive can be found on the CICA website

CICA have established a special team to deal with such applications. They will accept applications from UK residents for onward transmission to EU countries, and receive applications from EU countries whose residents were injured here.

Disaster Appeals and Funds

Disaster Action has provided Lessons and Guidance on the Management and Distribution of Disaster Funds

The British Red Cross has revised its guidance for Local Authorities on the setting up of disaster appeals.

Information on setting up disaster funds is also available on the Charities Commission website.

Benefits

Information on benefit entitlement and on possible access to help with essential expenses from the Social Fund following an emergency can be found on the DWP website. General information is also available on GOV.UK and from local Jobcentre Plus offices.

The Case Study from the Yorkshire and Humber Flooding - Rotherham, June 2007 (PDF, 64.9KB, 12 pages) produced by DWP describes the benefits available during that emergency and how these were administered.

Council Tax Relief

In addition to any statutory council tax discounts that may apply to those forced out of their homes by an emergency, Local Authorities have discretionary powers, under section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992,to grant discounts of up to 100% to householders who have been affected.

Charitable Fund for Victims of Overseas Terrorism

Immediate financial assistance for British victims of overseas terrorism is available through the British Red Cross’ Relief Fund for Victims Of Terrorist Attacks Abroad. Information about the fund and the application forms are available on the British Red Cross website

Wales

Compensation is not a devolved issue in Wales, which is covered by the GB Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Scotland

Compensation is also a devolved matter in Scotland, but remains party to the GB Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and pays a percentage of its costs.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has its own compensation scheme for UK nationals who are injured or bereaved in violent crime which occurs in Northern Ireland. More information can be found on the Compensation Agency website.

DWP is responsible for benefits across Great Britain. Northern Ireland has its own system.

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

Local Authorities will take a decision on whether it is appropriate to set up a disaster appeal. Voluntary sector agencies (eg the British Red Cross) may also be consulted or involved in this. General financial advice should be made immediately available by the relevant organisations and agencies present if a Humanitarian Assistance Centre has been established. Any longer term centre or agency offering practical assistance would also be able to pass on information on financial assistance. Free financial advice may be offered in the event of an emergency through a regulated organisation.

Lead Government Department

The Ministry of Justice will lead on all compensation arrangements, with advice from the DCMS and the FCO where necessary.

Decisions on benefit entitlement in Great Britain are made by Jobcentre Plus (for people of working age) and the Pension Service.

Other government involvement

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (an agency of the Home Office) will provide compensation payments to all victims of violent crime that occurs in the UK, including terrorist attacks.

Devolved administrations

Wales

Wales is party to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Scotland

Scotland is party to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Northern Ireland

The Compensation Agency handle compensation claims for UK Nationals affected by violent crime that occurs in Northern Ireland.

Decisions on benefit entitlement are made by the Social Security Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Social Development.

Funding

Funding for compensation payments for UK nationals affected by violent crime that occurs in the UK, including terrorism, comes from the Ministry of Justice.

Funding for the charitable fund for victims of overseas terrorist attacks comes from the British Red Cross, and from an initial government donation to the fund. Continued funding for the fund is likely to come from public/private donors.

Funding for the establishment of disaster appeals should come from Local Authorities, who will use public/private donations where appropriate.

Funding for benefits is provided through the DWP.

Devolved administrations

Wales

As above.

Scotland

As above.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Compensation Authority is funded by the Northern Ireland Office.

Case studies

Contacts

Humanitarian Assistance Unit
Department for Culture Media & Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London
SW1Y 5DH
Telephone: 020 7211 6200

Investigations and prosecutions

Background

The cause of an emergency may be immediately apparent, but should not be presumed until investigations (and possibly prosecutions) are completed. Whilst the rescue of survivors must take precedence, once the rescue phase is complete and the scene has been declared safe, it must be protected from interference or unnecessary movement. The site must be treated as a crime scene, and its protection is vital to preserve evidence. However, a key consideration will be to restore services at the earliest opportunity.

The purpose of any prosecution is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed, rather than establishing the circumstances of an accident or incident. Witnesses are essential to investigations and prosecution and fall into the following categories:

  • survivors
  • eye witnesses
  • emergency service personnel
  • technical witnesses, and
  • identification witnesses.

Policy and guidance

England and Wales

All policing will be conducted within the bounds of the prescribed legal parameters. These parameters are based in statutes such as:

  • Pubic Health and Safety Act 1997
  • Transport and Works Act 1992
  • Offences against the Person Act 1861
  • Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1994
  • Data Protection Act 1988
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Article 85 on the Air Investigation Order 2000
  • Common Law
  • International Law
  • ECHR HR 1998
  • Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

An emergency involving work-related deaths (eg. train crash, chemical site incidents) will fall under the protocol agreed between the Health and Safety Executive, the Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service in April 1988, which sets out the principles for effective liaison between the three agencies.

Scotland

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

One of the primary police responsibilities in response to an emergency is that of investigation, in conjunction with other investigative bodies if applicable. The role of the police in an investigation is to establish whether there is sufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings. Where the emergency results in injury or death, the overall Incident Commander will immediately appoint a Senior Investigative Officer (SIO) to initiate a major crime inquiry. The SIO will work in conjunction with the Incident Officer, SIM and any other legally-appointed investigative agency, assisting in the collation of evidence for the purposes of the investigation.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is a non-ministerial department of the government, responsible for the prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales. The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), answering to the Attorney General. The CPS is responsible for criminal cases beyond investigation (which is the role of the police). This involves advising the police on what charges to bring, authorising all but a very few simple charges, and preparing and presenting cases at Magistrates and Crown Courts.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has three dedicated accident investigation branches, whose sole objectives are to determine the circumstances and causes of a transport accident and, where necessary, issue safety recommendations. These branches are the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB). They all form part of the DFT but are functionally independent.

There will also be MOD Boards of Inquiry following any serious military incident.

Any death in prison is investigated by the Office of the Probation and Prison Ombudsman.

Devolved administrations

Wales

As Above

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Funding

England

Wales

Rail investigations are non-devolved. Road investigations are done by the police, funded by the Home Office.

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Case studies

Other documents

Railways

Marine

Aviation

Contacts

UK residents affected by overseas emergencies

Background

The FCO respond to the immediate needs of those affected by emergencies overseas through its consular staff based overseas and its Rapid Deployment Teams (further information about the FCO role is contained under the Roles and Responsibilities section).

In order to meet medium and longer-term humanitarian needs, a strategic, co-ordinated and consistent approach by the responding agencies is required. Those returning to or affected in the UK, will require a co-ordinated UK-based response before the traditionally defined ‘recovery’ phase. Response and recovery to overseas emergencies must involve handover from agencies based abroad to agencies based in the UK, and this means effective communication is of paramount importance.

Responding to the needs of those who were overseas and directly involved, and those in the UK who are affected - has presented unique challenges in the past. The government recognises that this area needs to be seen as a continued high priority and following a number of emergencies (including terrorist attacks and natural disasters) involving British citizens and residents that resulted in the identification of various issues, is pursuing a number of projects to build upon the UK’s existing capability following a number of emergencies involving British citizens and residents, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters, which held lessons for government.

The Humanitarian Assistance Unit (HAU) is now formally established within the DCMS. Since 2005, the HAU has developed close relationships with the FCO, Cabinet Office, the ACPO, the Association for the Directors of Adult Social Services, voluntary sector partners and other agencies to examine the roles and responsibilities of each agency involved in response. DCMS plays a lead role within central government in co-ordinating recovery to the longer-term humanitarian impacts of a major emergency overseas which involves significant numbers of UK nationals.

The needs of people affected in an emergency overseas will be similar to that following a UK-based emergency. The key difference is that it is likely that those affected in an emergency overseas will be widely dispersed within the UK and therefore, that no single response structure within the UK will respond to the full humanitarian impact of the emergency.

DCMS is developing a national ‘emergency information’ website for victims of major emergencies, which will be linked from GOV.UK and signpost people to appropriate available sources of support. More broadly, the government is considering options for meeting people’s needs following future overseas emergencies.

An emergency overseas is likely to involve a diverse constituency of people, and result in diverse needs. For example, a large-scale natural disaster such as the tsunami will result in needs amongst:

  • UK-resident survivors returning to the UK (some of whom may also be bereaved)
  • individuals resident in the UK who have lost UK relatives
  • individuals resident in the UK who have lost non-UK relatives

The tsunami illustrates this: many of the UK’s Sri Lankan communities were severely affected, either by the loss of loved ones or by the loss of their home communities overseas - but UK authorities would probably not have any way to measure this impact, or be alerted to the death of non-UK citizens.

As is the case in responding to an emergency occurring in the UK, needs - and the responding agencies duties and abilities to meet them - will vary according to the nature, scale, and location of the incident. In the case of a terrorist incident, where an alternative financial package or insurance cover is not available, an exceptional package of care may be provided by the FCO to those affected, and UK residents affected may be eligible for immediate financial assistance through the Red Cross Charitable Fund for Victims of Terrorism Overseas launched in May 2007. Some major emergencies are likely to attract significant or prolonged media coverage, which in turn might elicit offers of public support and donations to appeal funds.

A wide range of agencies in the UK offer assistance, advice and support to people on a routine basis and have the capability to play a key role in meeting needs in the recovery phase (eg welfare support, special needs support, and access/ signposting to existing sources of assistance). Planning should cover provision of anything which people are likely to need in the immediate days, weeks and months after the emergency. This package of care will require a range of agencies to work together.

Mechanisms and structures which might play a role in the provision of an appropriate response in the short, medium and long term include:

  • an FCO Rapid Deployment Team being sent to the overseas location of the emergency
  • FCO Consular staff working overseas
  • FCO staff based in the Consular Crisis Centre/Consular Directorate London, UK
  • rest centres/ survivor/family and friends reception centres based in overseas location
  • FCO Missing Persons Line/ Police Casualty Bureau and Family Liaison Officers based in the UK
  • National Support-line (telephone assistance), possibly provided by a voluntary agency
  • a website detailing information, advice and support available
  • a focal point for longer-term support, set up either overseas or in the UK
  • others from local authorities/ voluntary sector/ private sector who can contribute to elements of the response

The needs of people affected in an emergency overseas may include:

  • provision of information on what has happened
  • ‘hand-holding through’ or ‘sophisticated signposting’ to systems of support and advice, and direction and assistance on how to access support
  • access to financial assistance and advice (benefits criminal injuries compensation/ charitable or relief funds as appropriate)
  • help with legal and insurance issues
  • provisions for health and rehabilitation issues
  • psychological/ counselling provisions for mental health issues including trauma
  • support and assistance in managing media interest
  • emotional support
  • communication facilitation - allowing people to meet each other, possibly facilitation of ‘support’ or ‘storytelling’ groups
  • where relevant, a link to any ongoing police investigation
  • a point of contact for longer-term support and advice

The ability to be effective in reaching out to everyone affected in the recovery phase may well depend on the collation of information and contact details in the response phase. Information should be shared, where appropriate, between agencies whose aim is to provide information, assistance or advice to those who have been affected. Sharing contact details allows agencies to proactively reach people who may welcome help, and allows the individual to choose whether or not to take up offers of assistance.

Policy and guidance

England

Wales

[TBC]

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

The extent of local and regional involvement will depend upon the nature, scale and impact of the emergency.

The Regional Resilience Teams in the GOs will act as a liaison point between local responders and central government.

At local level, the lead organisation for any arrangements to meet people’s needs, from reception arrangements to individual support, is likely to be the local authority, working in partnership with colleagues from DWP / Job Centre Plus, the health sector, the voluntary sector and others.

This might involve a ‘crisis support team’ or response system. Some members of the voluntary sector - eg the British Red Cross (BRC), Victim Support, Cruse Bereavement Care - have experience either in providing reception arrangements, or longer-term information and support.

Lead Government Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The FCO provides consular support to British nationals overseas in normal times and during a crisis. In the event of a major emergency overseas which affects significant numbers of UK nationals, the FCO is the LGD.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Depending on the scale of the emergency, the DCMS, working with the Minister responsible for Humanitarian Assistance, might become the LGD in the recovery phase. Its role will be to work closely with the FCO and other agencies to co-ordinate the provision of longer-term support to those affected.

Other government involvement

FCO (Response Phase): When a consular emergency affecting British Nationals occurs overseas, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, the FCO’s London-based Consular Crisis Group takes the lead in providing fast consular assistance to those British nationals affected. The immediate response might include sending a Rapid Deployment Team (RDT) to help or opening the Emergency Response Unit to provide a call-handling facility. Consular Crisis Group would work closely with staff from the relevant Post in the country affected, as well as other key stakeholders to ensure a swift and effective response to the crisis.

RDTs contain specially selected and trained FCO staff, the majority of whom are consular officers. Teams will also include a press officer, technical officer and, as a result of partnerships now established, psychological support officers from the British Red Cross , and International SOS medical assessors. When required, the FCO works with the police who can also deploy disaster victim identification specialists. On occasion, immigration officers or anti terrorism police also form part of the RDT.

The ACPO will co-ordinate the specialist police resources required to ensure an appropriate UK response to a major emergency. This may involve a Police Casualty Bureau and the deployment of Police Family Liaison Officers to UK-based families of those missing or dead.

The Ministry of Justice and Coroners will be involved in the identification and possible inquests into any deaths.

DCLG will co-ordinate any actions by the Regional Resilience Teams in the GOs.

Devolved administrations

Wales

In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government will act as a liaison point between local responders and central government.

Scotland

The details outlined above apply to Scotland.

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Funding

Currently, the DCMS provides funding to the 7th July Assistance Centre (up to March 2008), which offers support to those affected in recent disasters and terrorist attacks. The government is now exploring ways in which the longer-term needs of those affected in overseas emergencies can best be met by UK agencies beyond March 2008, and whether this might involve a national resource or local structures.

Devolved administrations

Wales

As above.

Scotland

There is no difference in Scotland

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Case studies

Other documents

Contacts

Non-resident UK Nationals returning from overseas emergencies

Background

Events overseas can result in large numbers of UK nationals being evacuated to the UK. The most recent of these events, the evacuation of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, saw over 2,000 UK nationals arriving at a number of airports across England. While many had family and friends with whom they could stay, there was a need for initial reception arrangements to provide immediate support and, where necessary, health care and help with onward travel in the UK. Others needed support for longer term housing needs.

Policy and guidance

England

Immediate reception arrangements are covered in the Humanitarian Assistance Centre Guidance

Longer-term housing needs are covered in the Displaced communities topic sheet.

Entitlement of non-resident UK nationals to health care follows the same principles as outlined in the Foreign nationals topic sheet.

For information on bringing pets into the UK and useful contact points, see: http://ww2.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel.

Wales

No differences for Wales.

Scotland

No differences for Scotland.

Northern Ireland

UK nationals returning to Northern Ireland will normally do so through GB and will receive initial assistance at the port of entry. People travelling onward from GB or the Republic of Ireland, or arriving directly in Northern Ireland would receive assistance from the Health and Social Care Trusts in the first instance and from the Social Security Agency and the NIHE in the medium to long term in line with their normal procedures for displaced and homeless people.

In the event of large numbers of returning nationals requiring assistance, rest centre procedures as set out in A Guide to Evacuation in Northern Ireland would be relevant. The principles set out in the UK policy and guidance documents above, although the organisation delivering care may be different.

Roles and responsibilities

Local and regional

At a local level, the lead organisation for reception arrangements will be the local authority (for whichever entry point the evacuees arrive into in the UK), working in partnership with colleagues from DWP / Jobcentre Plus, the health sector, the voluntary sector and others. Local authorities will also lead on support for longer term housing requirements.

Local authorities would therefore act as the main point of liaison to ensure that information on the needs of those returning is passed proactively to other responding agencies to ensure adequate reception arrangements are in place.

Lead Government Department

At a national level, DCLG will be responsible for co-ordinating nationwide reception arrangements through the GO Regional Resilience Teams.

The DfT will be responsible, in consultation with other government departments, for identifying and arranging reception facilities with the operators of UK civil airports.

The FCO has responsibility for the evacuees before their arrival in the UK.

Other government involvement

The Regional Resilience Teams (RRTs) in the GOs will act as a liaison point between local responders and central government. They will cascade information coming from central government departments (such as passenger manifests, arrival destinations and times, etc) to the affected local authorities, emergency services and other interested agencies, as well as collating data gathered from local partners to inform the national picture. The RRTs can also support local responders by facilitating mutual aid at a regional level, where necessary, and by providing an entry point into central government departments, to raise issues which need to be resolved at a national level (eg. access to benefits, longer-term housing, etc).

The DH will have a role in co-ordinating medical assistance for evacuees.

There would be a need for cross-government agreement at ministerial level on the immigration status of those returning, as a number of services can normally only be provided to those people who are permanently resident in the UK.

The DWP, together with DCLG and DH, will have a role in seeking ministerial approval to the waiving of the Habitual Residence Test to allow certain categories of evacuee access to benefits and social housing. It cannot be assumed that ministers will agree to such measures.

Home Office will advise on immigration policy and process issues including where ministerial approval is required.

It is very unlikely that Ministry of Defence (MOD) facilities would be made available to house an influx of entitled nationals. Doing so would certainly interfere with MOD operational activity and undermine operational security. It should also be borne in mind that many MOD facilities present a hazard to members of the public. Armed Forces personnel might be made available to augment the support services to an influx of British Nationals, if civil capabilities prove inadequate, but this should be seen as a last resort.

Devolved administrations

Wales

In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government will provide appropriate support to the local responders where this is needed and will act as a liaison point with the UK government. The Assembly’s Health and Social Services Department, with a role similar to that of the DH, will co-ordinate medical assistance to evacuees should this be needed.

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

It is anticipated that many returning nationals arriving in Northern Ireland will have family members resident in Northern Ireland who could provide initial support. Health and Social Care Trusts would have responsibility for immediate welfare needs of returning nationals. Advice on benefits and appropriate financial support would be provided by the Social Security Agency, and agency of the DSD. Responsibility for medium and long-term housing of homeless people is the responsibility of the NIHE, which is a Non-Departmental Public Body of DSD.

In the event that large numbers of returning nationals arrive in Northern Ireland and do not have any local family support, arrangements for reception and temporary accommodation would be made involving the DH, Social Services and Public Safety, the Health and Social Services Boards, the Health and Social Care Trusts, district councils, the Social Security Agency and the NIHE.

The Northern Ireland Office may also have a role in liaising with the FCO and other Whitehall departments on arrangements for repatriation of British nationals and immigration issues.

Funding

Local Authorities will be expected to fund their own reception arrangements.

Where requirements for the Habitual Residence Test are relaxed, this will allow evacuees access to mainstream benefits, including housing benefits.

Devolved administrations

Wales

In Wales, financial assistance to local authorities, fire and police is provided through the Emergency Financial Assistance Scheme.

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, costs would normally lie with the individual organisations providing care to incoming nationals. Where exceptional costs are incurred, district councils may apply to Local Government Division of DOE under arrangements for funding emergency response and other organisations would need to apply to their funding department under the normal public expenditure processes.

Case studies

Other documents

Contacts

Mass fatalities

Background

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

Any plan for dealing with fatalities needs to be integrated with all aspects of the response and recovery from such situations and incidents. Organisations need to work in collaboration with others on key activities and ensure their own plans are robust.

The Mass Fatalities Workstream (under the Civil Contingencies Secretariat Capabilities Programme) aims to build generic capability to deal with large scale events involving large numbers of fatalities both in the UK and overseas. Recent examples include Ladbroke Grove rail crash and Indian Ocean Tsunami. There is a need to ensure integrity of identification of the deceased whilst balancing the needs of families and any investigation.

Policy and guidance

England

The ACPO manual is a generic concept of operations for Police Forces and identifies roles and responsibilities. This is currently under review.

Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Strategy – A DVI manual is in preparation.

Mass Fatality Guidance – Currently under review by the Home office

Wales

Wales maintains two separate Mass Fatalities Plans: one for ‘Sudden Impact’ and the other for Emerging Incidents’. These plans are reviewed by the Wales Mass Fatalities Group.

Recovery capability is accounted for within local authority and LRF Mass Fatalities Plans.

Scotland

The Scottish government is currently preparing mass fatalities guidance.

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Roles and responsibilities

Local

The local authority is responsible for establishing and equipping those Mortuaries that are required in a mass fatalities emergency. Local Authorities are encouraged to use mutual aid arrangements, where necessary, to fulfil this responsibility. The local authority is responsible for alerting social services, the Environment Agency and calling on support from Faith Leaders and the Voluntary Sector to assist in welfare provision for family and friends of the deceased.

Social Services will liaise with the police Family Liaison Co-ordinator to assess the need for trauma support staff and other tangible support for families and friends who view the deceased and/or need to deal with funeral arrangements.

The local authority will usually appoint and support a Mortuary Facilities Manager. This appointment may be achieved by utilising the principles of mutual aid.

The local authority within whose area the mortuary is situated (unless otherwise agreed) will assist in matters relating to:

  • the management of all sub-contracted services (unless stated as otherwise in agreements contained within the National Emergency Mortuary Arrangements)
  • public health
  • Health & Safety
  • hazardous waste collection
  • the management of effluent discharges in consultation with the water service, utility provider and the Environment Agency
  • refuse collection
  • cleaning and road-sweeping
  • the provision of garden and landscaping services
  • the upkeep and appearance of all public areas within the mortuary

Regional

It is recognised that local plans might be insufficient to cope with large scale events, and so sub-regional or regional response mass fatality plans might be required. Regional Resilience Forums (Wales Resilience Forum in Wales) should engage with local authorities in their area to agree the scale of planning required.

National

In recognition that a regional response may become overwhelmed, the Home Office have worked with the Regional Resilience Forums and the devolved administrations to establish national capability to deal with mass fatality incidents.

Requests for central assistance must be put to the Home Office Mass Fatalities Section. National approval is required so that central resources can be tracked against the potential for further incidents.

Lead Government Department

The Home Office is the LGD on mass fatalities.

Other government involvement

The departments involved will be determined by the type of incident that has occurred.

HM Coroner

It is the responsibility of the coroner to establish cause of death, circumstances and identification of a body. If an incident crosses more than one coroner’s jurisdiction, a lead coroner will have to be identified. The coroner will decide if post mortems are required to establish death. Coroners should have emergency plans to deal with multiple deaths that may impact on normal working arrangements.

Coroner’s officers

A coroner’s officer is the representative of the coroner and duties include supervising procedures for the removal, examination, identification and viewing of victims, and keeping the coroner informed on all matters. The role will be important at the scene of incidents, which they may attend if appropriate, and at the mortuary.

The responsibilities of the coroner’s officer include:

  • Providing information for the coroner and contacting hospitals about subsequent deaths
  • Liaising with victim recovery teams
  • Arranging transfers of victim from scene to mortuary
  • Liaising with the lead pathologist on the extent of examination, taking of specimens and determining cause of death
  • Liaising with local authorities regarding establishment of the mortuary
  • Membership of the mortuary management team

Pathology team

The pathology team will be made up of relevant specialists operating under the supervision of the lead pathologist and on behalf of the coroner. This team will work to a pathology plan that covers anything ranging from key considerations at the scene to completion of mortuary procedures. The lead pathologist will be a member of the Identification Commission and the pathology team will support the coroner in establishing the identity of victims, and where, when, and how death occurred.

Specialist Police roles

Scene Evidence Recovery Manager (SERM)

  • Develop a recovery strategy and a plan to remove deceased victims, property and evidence from the scene.
  • Develop a security strategy.
  • Preserve the scene and safety

Senior Identification Manager

  • The function of the SIM is to recover the deceased in a dignified manner, ensuring integrity of identification and forensic evidence.
  • Identify as accurately and speedily as possible using ethical means, keeping families informed throughout the process.
  • Responsible for victim recovery at scene.
  • Has overall responsibility for family liaison and the Casualty Bureau.

Senior Investigation Officer

  • The SIO works with the SIM to develop the forensic identification strategy including collection of samples by Family Liaison Officers.
  • Assume responsibility for the investigation following ACPO guidance.
  • Appoint an investigation team.
  • Attend silver/gold meetings.
  • Liaise with representatives from other legally appointed agencies.
  • Liaise with the SIM and SERM.
  • Provide reports to the coroner, inquiry or court proceedings.

Casualty Bureau

The purpose of Casualty Bureau is to provide a central contact and information point for all records and data relating to persons who have, or are believed to have, been involved in an incident

It has 4 fundamental tasks:

  • inform the investigation process.
  • trace and identify people involved in the emergency.
  • reconcile missing persons.
  • collate accurate information.

This will involve:

  • receiving enquiries from the general public and recording missing persons reports.
  • recording details of survivors, evacuees, the injured and deceased, including their whereabouts.
  • formulating a comprehensive list of missing persons.
  • collating data to assist in the identification of all persons involved.
  • liaising with the ante mortem team.
  • informing enquirers (by the most appropriate method) of the condition and location of these persons.

Industrial and commercial organisations

Dealing with fatalities in emergencies will have the potential to overwhelm the responding agencies, and many local authorities rely on contracted arrangements for many of the normal services they provide.

It is accepted by some local authorities that some of the facilities and services necessary for dealing with fatalities will, or could be, provided by commercial services. For example, this could relate to providing temporary mortuaries or social and psychological aftercare. It is necessary for local authorities to be confident in the provision of these services and to consider a fallback option in the event that the terms of a contract are not met.

Many other industrial and commercial organisations may have a direct role to play in relation to emergencies, including utilities. Where this is the case, it will be necessary to include such organisations within the planning, training and exercising arrangements.

When dealing with fatalities in emergencies, involvement of industrial and commercial organisations will be on the instruction of the relevant authority, for example, the local authority or the police, and appropriate tendering processes will need to be considered.

Voluntary agencies

Volunteers can contribute to a wide range of activities, either as members of a voluntary organisation or as individuals. When responding to emergencies, such volunteers must be under the control of the relevant statutory authority.

Devolved administrations

Wales

As above.

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Funding

For funding of Coroners, see Coroners’ Inquests.

The cost of deployment of national capabilities will be met by the relevant local authority requesting assistance.

Devolved administrations

Wales

As above.

Scotland

[TBC]

Northern Ireland

[TBC]

Case studies

Other documents

Contacts

  • Home Office
Published 20 February 2013