Major Incidents and Civil Contingencies Act

Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and how it is related to UK emergency services and major incident handling

UK agencies working in specific major incidents in accordance with their legal duties and Civil Contingencies Act 2004

UK emergency services support one another and work together when needed to protect public from different dangers.  This is especially useful when dealing with major incidents when multiple dangers are involved.  A perfect example of services working together was 2011 London riots as violence, crime, riots and injuries were involved in the scene requesting all of the services to perform their legal duties.Civil Contingencies Act 2004

Emergency services – mostly police force, fire service (because there was a lot of buildings, cars and other objects lit on fire) and ambulance had to operate all around the hot spot areas and try to control the situation.  These organisations had to communicate and organise themselves between each other to ensure that all emergency required areas are covered and taken appropriate care off.  Because of the size of event and frequency of incidents it was very difficult to maintain control for fire and ambulance services, but police service had even harder time to maintain rioters that at some points were actually attacking officers by throwing objects at them.  They also had to deal with communication technology failures that slowed down all the processes of command.

It is believed that riots were triggered due to neutralisation of Mark Duggan by police officer and with the help of mainstream and social media this news spread quickly that allowed rioters to organise.  Because of the nature of the cause, police force were not allowed to use anything lethal against the rioters as police authorities believed that it will only trigger more violence.  But some calming equipment was used such as: tear gas and batons.

Civil Contingencies Act 2004 is an act that divided in three parts:

  • Part 1 defines the obligations of certain organisations to prepare for various types of emergencies
  • Part 2 provides additional powers for the government to use in the event of a large scale emergency
  • Part 3 provides supplementary legislation in support of the first two parts

In a nutshell this act broadens the number of local bodies which have duties in the event of an emergency, previous legislation only related to local authorities, police authorities and certain fire authorities and gives rights for services to take control over civil possessions and give direct instructions to public.

In a riot situation like 2011 London riots a threat to national security was presented as riots could have spread all over UK and it actually did as some reports were coming from other UK cities and towns.  Local people that lived around, had to travel and commute were injured by rioters, some of them got robbed and experienced violence.  This kind of threat to UK public triggers the execution for all emergency services to perform their duties regarding to the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.Major incidents

After the riots ended, some of the reports from ministers raised questions to propose curfew powers covering wide geographical areas in UK.  Home Secretary Theresa May announced that giving the police further powers to clear streets and establish “no-go” areas are under discussion – having in mind that this would prevent future accidents like this.

Curfew would be perfect example of ministers using Civil Contingencies Act 2004, because of a massive amount of people involved that would receive direct order and if they would not comply with it – services like police can execute their powers e.g. arrest, confiscate possessions and etc.

Source of information: