Hertfordshire is a safe place to live. However, major incidents can occur and usually with little or no warning. One definition of a major incident is:
'...any event or circumstance (happening with or without warning) that causes or threatens death or injury, disruption to the community, or damage to property or to the environment on such a scale that the effects cannot be dealt with by the emergency services, local authorities, and other organisations as part of their day to day activities'.
Dealing with Disaster, 3rd edn
NHDC has its own confidential staff Resilience Plan and support plans to help the Council respond to incidents that might affect the Authority. The Council’s response will vary according to the type of incident. For security reasons these plans are classed as private and confidential and are not available to the public but a public booklet is available below which outlines the Council’s response arrangements.
Civil Contingencies Act
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 defines local authorities as Category 1 Responders. As a local authority and Category 1 responder, North Hertfordshire District Council is subject to the full set of duties under the Act, the main functions include:
- Assess the risk of emergencies occurring
- Put in place emergency plans
- Put in place Business Continuity Management arrangements
- Put in place arrangements to make information available to the public about civil protection matters and maintain arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency
- Share information with other local responders to enhance co-ordination
- Co-operate with other local responders to enhance co-ordination and efficiency
- Provide advice and assistance to businesses and voluntary organisations about business continuity management (local authorities only).
Assessing the Risk - The Community Risk Register
As defined in Part 1 of the Civil Contingencies Act an 'Emergency' is:
'An event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or war or terrorism which threatens serious damage to the security of the UK.’
The National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies provides information on the 'types of civil emergency that people in the UK could face over the next five years'. For Hertfordshire a countywide risk assessment exercise known as the Hertfordshire Community Risk Register has been produced to assist in planning for major incidents. The Risk Register is updated annually.
Sharing Information and Cooperation - Hertfordshire Resilience
Category 1 and 2 organisations are required to form 'Local Resilience Forums' based on police areas which help co-ordination and cooperation between responders locally. In Hertfordshire this forum is known as Hertfordshire Resilience. The forum enables representatives from the Local Authorities, voluntary organisations and the emergency services to meet and discuss local issues, training, testing and validation of plans. The meetings ensure there is a standard approach to plans, terminology and awareness across the member groups.
The Hertfordshire Resilience partnership provides information on preparing for emergencies via their webpage 'Are you Ready for Anything?'.