The Civil Contingencies Act - (which received Royal Assent on 18 November 2004) is an important element of the Government's work to enhance and update the resilience of the United Kingdom to disruptive challenges of the 21st Century.

The legislation and accompanying non-statutory measures give us a single framework for civil protection in the UK. This improves the UK's ability to deal with the consequences of major disruptive incidents by improving the planning process at a local level, building better contacts between agencies and improving the link between local areas and central government.

The Act is separated into two substantive parts: local arrangements for civil protection (Part 1) and emergency powers (Part 2).

The Act focuses on three types of threat -

  1. an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare;

  2. an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment;

  3. war, or terrorism, which threatens serious damage to security.

The purpose of Part 1 of the Act is to establish a new statutory framework for civil protection at the local level. This, together with accompanying guidance and regulations, sets out clear expectations and responsibilities for responders to ensure they are fully prepared to deal effectively with the wide range of emergencies from localised incidents through to catastrophic emergencies. It divides local responders into two categories.

Those in Category 1 have duties placed upon them to:

Assess local risks, including the development and maintenance of a Community Risk Register, and use this to inform emergency planning;

  • 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 (such as the Community Risk Register) 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; and

  • Provide advice and assistance to businesses and voluntary organisations about business continuity management. (Local Authorities only).

Those covered by the duties at present are Local Authorities, Government agencies, Emergency Services, most NHS organisations.

Category 2 organisations will be placed under the lesser duties of co-operating with Category 1 organisations and sharing relevant information. Those to be included at present are utilities, transport, government, strategic health authorities.

It is intended that Category 1 and 2 organisations come together to form ‘Local Resilience Forums' (based on police areas) which will help co-ordination and co-operation between responders at the local level.

While it is primarily focused at civil emergencies, Part 1 will improve the UK's ability to deal with the consequences of a wide range of disruptions by improving the planning process at a local level, building better contacts between organisations and ensuring what goes on at the local level dovetails with efforts at the regional and national levels.

CCA Part 2 Emergency Powers legislation is a mechanism for dealing with only the most serious of emergencies that require an urgent response, an instrument of last resort. The Act introduces a range of other new features, mostly designed to ensure emergency powers cannot be misused and can be used in a more targeted and proportionate manner.

Other Legislation:

The same structure will be used to deliver emergency planning and response requirements under other legislation, for example Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations, Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Public Information (REPPIR) Regulations, and Pipeline Safety Regulations.

Further information about the Civil Contingencies Act, please click on the following links:

Civil Contingencies Act 2004 – A Short Guide

Civil Contingencies Act 2004 – Explanatory Notes