United Kingdom

This country is covered by UNDRR's Europe office.

This risk profile is currently being updated with new data from the 2013 Global Risk Update.
United Kingdom has focal point(s) for  
National Platform

Focal Points

National Platform, Hyogo Framework for Action

Cabinet Office (UK)

Website: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/
Contact: Deputy Director - International Resilience
Phone: +44 727 667 99 +44 793 195 9235

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Institutional Structure / National Platform Description


The Civil Contingencies Secretariat was established in July 2001 after serious flooding, the Fuel Crisis in 2000, and the Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001, exposed deficiencies in the UK's civil protection arrangements. Since then, CCS has worked to improve the UK's preparedness for, and response to, emergencies.


The Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) sits within the Cabinet Office at the heart of central government. It works in partnership with government departments, the devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland) and key stakeholders to enhance the UK's ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.


CCS has a number of specific objectives:

1. Spotting trouble, assessing its nature and providing warning

Not all emergencies are predictable. But, for those that are, the earlier an emerging crisis is detected, and the more accurately its likely size and shape are assessed, the better the response will be put into place. This objective covers the measures needed to ensure that, working with Departments and a wide range of other organizations, CCS can spot, assess and warn of trouble and thus facilitate the provision of the most effective response, drawing on lessons from past experience.

2. Being ready to respond

This objective covers the preparedness of all of those who might have a role to play in the response to a major disruptive challenge. As well as ensuring that CCS itself is ready, it is also about tracking the preparedness of organizations at nationaland local levels, in the public sector and outside, using the Civil Contingencies Act to develop and embed performance audit and management regimes across all responders, rooted in formal preparedness assessments. CCS also aims to ensure mechanisms are in place so that the UK is as well placed as it can be to respond to threats which horizon-scanning shows may be at higher risk of occurring.

3. Building greater resilience for the future

This objective covers action at all levels, from local to international, to build stronger resilience capabilities. It thus covers the processes led by the CCS to drive the delivery of resilience capabilities. It also covers international work to develop closer relations in the resilience field through which we can build mutual resilience. This includes bilateral work, and action in the EU and in NATO to seek to build greater resilience capability in partner countries, as well as the EU's own ability to manage a crisis.

4. Providing leadership and guidance to the resilience community

CCS aims to tell those involved in delivering and building resilience across the UK what the secretariat is trying to do, where it is trying to get to, how it will get there and how it will know that it has succeeded - in short, to build consistency and coherence across the UK. Some key means are already in place, especially via the Capabilities Programme and its outputs and the Civil Contingencies Act. CCS will be focusing on the development of a 'National Resilience Strategy' and reviewing the national exercise programme.

5. Effective management

This objective covers the way in which CCS manages itself, and its effective management of Cabinet Office processes. Some of it is routine but nonetheless important. CCS aims to sustain reputation as effective managers of people and money, and as efficient operators of Cabinet Office processes.


The ten most significant achievements over the past four years are:

1. Establishing a UK-wide horizon scanning capacity

Emergencies in the early years of this century showed that the UK was missing the warning signs, failing to prevent emergencies and being caught unaware when they occurred. CCS now works with a range of organizations to deliver a Forward Look, which helps to identify and prevent potential emergencies.

2. Establishing a national risk assessment process

The UK now has a national risk assessment process, which identifies risks over a five year period and forms the basis for decisions about emergency preparedness. This risk assessment process involves a wide range of organizations, and is the first time that the UK has a systematic and all-inclusive approach to risk analysis.

3. Delivering improved performance and outputs across the civil protection area through the Capabilities Programme

Although government departments and other organizations have always had emergency plans, CCS established and now leads a Capabilities Programme which provides central direction and co-ordination to emergency preparedness. The Programme has delivered a step change improvement in departmental preparedness and joined-up working.

4. Establishing the UK's first national exercise programme

For the first time, the UK now has an exercise programme which co-ordinates the range of exercises which have always taken place within government. The CCS-led programme adds value by minimizing duplication, improving the quality of exercises, prioritizing key risks and ensuring the sharing of lessons.

5. Supporting the new Resilience Emergency Divisions

CCS was closely involved in the work during 2010/11 to design and establish 3 new RED(s) in England. Managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the RED(s) improve co-ordination and communication, and acts as a bridge between central government and the local level.

6. Delivering a Civil Contingencies Act

By the turn of the century, the legislative framework for civil protection was widely regarded as out of date and unfit for purpose. CCS developed a Civil Contingencies Bill and took it through Parliament, working closely with a wide range of stakeholders inside and outside government. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and its associated non-legislative measures provide robust, modern framework for civil protection right across the UK.

7. Securing the right resources for civil protection

CCS has played a crucial role in securing the right level of resourcing for civil protection work. The level of funding for national security and emergency preparedness will double between 2001 and 2008. CCS was particularly closely involved in building a new financial deal for local authority civil protection work, overseeing a 120 per cent increase in funding.

8. Transforming the Emergency Planning College

An integral part of CCS from the outset, the Emergency Planning College has undergone a period of transformation. Between October 2003 and July 2004 the College underwent a renewal project which included two new accommodation blocks plus a new training block. And the courses have been extensively remodeled to improve the value added.

9. Playing a key role in helping to co-ordinate the Government's response to emergencies

CCS has played an important part in the response to emergencies which have arisen since its establishment. These have included the London bombings, the Asian Tsunami, industrial action and major public protests. Perhaps the most notable was the Fire Strike of 2002, during which CCS played a pivotal co-ordination role in support of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), providing crisis management advice, assessments and consequence management.

10. Enhancing the UK's international civil protection networks

International partnerships have taken on a new prominence since CCS assumed responsibility for the UK's interests in international civil protection networks. CCS has delivered increasingly active participation in EU, NATO and other international forums and supported an enhanced international profile for UK civil protection work.

Current concerns

  • Pandemic flu
  • Avian flu
  • Severe Weather, Flooding, Drought
  • Human Health
  • Terrorism
  • Transport Accidents
  • Animal and Plant Diseases
  •  Public Protest
  • International Events
  • Industrial Technical Failure
  • Structural Failure
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN)
  • Industrial Accidents and Environmental Pollution


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