¶ … UK's emergency response and recovery plan on statutory guidance accompanying the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (last updated October 2013, version 5) which is intended to improve the country's ability to absorb, respond to and recover from manmade and natural disasters and various types of emergency situations. Although many analysts believe the UK's emergency response and recovery plan is adequate for its purposes, some critics charge that it fails to provide guidelines for the private sector that are an essential part of the recovery process. To determine the facts, the evaluation of the UK's emergency response and recovery plan that follows below in Part A draws on relevant guidance in the peer-reviewed, scholarly, popular press and governmental literature concerning best practices in emergency planning. The evaluation and review of the UK's emergency response and recovery plan are followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion. The changes to the emergency response and recovery plan are highly congruent with the observations provided by Abbas (2007, p. 192) who reports, "In the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 bombings in London, and with the dawning realization that the terrorists were home-grown British citizens, much political and media attention has focused upon examining potential pathways to radicalization, and identifying possible sites that may aid and abet the transmission of extremist Islamist viewpoints and violent action."
Review and Evaluation
The emergency response and recovery plan that was developed by the United Kingdom's Cabinet Office in recent years sets forth timely guidance concerning the types of general principles that are required for effective response and recovery planning. In sum, the UK's emergency response and recovery plan is intended to achieve a wide range of desirable outcomes, including (a) facilitating the preparation for, responses to and recovery from a wide array of emergency situations; (b) providing a timely and relevant complement to other Emergency Preparedness policies concerned with the pre-emergency phase of planning including the requirements of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and supporting regulations; (c) providing a multi-agency framework for responding to and recovering from civil emergencies in the UK; (d) providing a sufficiently flexible response to the exigencies of unique local circumstances, experience and priorities; (d) providing guidance for all personnel that may potentially become involved in emergency responses, especially senior staff; and (e) developing a shared understanding of multi-agency response and recovery arrangements across responding agencies (Emergency response and recovery, 2013 p. 7)
The general emergency response and recovery plan principles set forth in the guidelines also emphasize the need for flexibility and avoidance of a "one-size-fits-all" approach to emergency response rather than a customized approach that is best suited to an organization's unique situation while still being based on fundamental emergency planning principles and best practices, including those that are set forth at Appendix A. The respective definitions for "emergency," "response," and "recovery" that are used in the emergency response and recovery plan are likewise provided at Appendix B.
The overarching objective of the foregoing guidance and definitions is to provide a readily available set of best practices that are based on past experiences and lessons learned following governmental responses to various types of emergency situations domestically and abroad (Emergency response and recovery, 2010). The complete emergency response and recovery plan spans 233 pages and also includes an overview of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 as an appendix. The Civil Contingency Act 2004 requires, in part, that large segments of the UK's public sector ensure that their information and communications (ICT) infrastructure and data recovery arrangements are in compliance with its provisions (McDonnell, 2009).
The emergency response and recovery plan is a companion document to the UK's emergency preparedness guidelines that provide information concerning the implementation of the Civil Contingencies Act (CCA) regime; this information includes relevant guidance concerning emergency and business continuity planning, risk assessment, provisions for communicating with the public, coordination of emergency response activities, and procedures for information sharing (Emergency response and recovery, 2010). The UK's emergency response and recovery guidance is also designed to: (a) develop a shared understanding of the multi-agency framework that is needed for emergency response and recovery at the local level, and the respective roles and responsibilities of the individual organisations that are involved in the response; (b) develop a shared understanding of the respective roles of local and national agencies in formulating an emergency response, and how these agencies should work together in their response; and, (c) provide a common frame of reference, particularly with
The nebulous and potentially threatening characteristics of the jihadist perpetrators of the July 7, 2005 bombings and other Islamic-inspired terrorism made the need for the emergency response and recovery plan an essential component of the country's preparedness operations. As Abbas (2007, p. 193) points out, "The radicalized Islamist extremist within our midst could potentially be everywhere, hidden from public view, potentially holding the technical and logistical skills and support necessary to bring about a devastating act of terror." The deaths of 52 people and the injuries of hundreds more on July 7, 2005 (News Analysis: London One Year On, 2006) and the increasingly hostile actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in beheading Westerners including a British citizen in recent months have further underscored the need for a timely and relevant emergency response and recovery plan (Wilby, 2014).
The eight steps outlined in the UK's emergency response and recovery plan at Appendix A (i.e., anticipation, preparedness, subsidiarity, direction, information, integration, cooperation, and continuity) are also highly congruent with the guidance provided by Wallace and Webber (2011, p. 111) who recommend the inclusion of a comprehensive recovery plan as part of an overall emergency response plan to facilitate the return of the affected area to normalcy as quickly as possible, including the continuity of leadership needed to sustain operations. Returning an affected area to normalcy as quickly as possible, though, is challenged by a number of constraints (Cahill, 2010). In this regard, Cahill (2010) emphasizes that, "In the majority of emergency responses, things take time. In general, emergency responses are associated with immediate action and, across sectors, seizing windows of opportunity for innovative and accelerated programmatic response" (p. 56).
Based on the lessons learned from emergency responses to a number of disasters, including both natural and anthropogenic, recovery requires significant amounts of time in many cases because of the enormity and ubiquity of the problems that have been caused (Cahill 2010). Not surprisingly, then, the planning involved for these types of disasters also requires significant amounts of time. For instance, Cahill (2010, p. 45) advises that, "Evidence from many recent emergencies, including responses to the tsunami and the Pakistan earthquake, indicate that recovery-related activities such as school reconstruction, systems support, and capacity development in emergency response and preparedness take considerable time to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate." In other words, because there is no time available for planning when an actual emergency occurs, everything must be in place beforehand to ensure that the response provided is as effective as possible under the circumstances. As Cahill (2010, p. 45) points out, "Pre-emergency, cross-sectoral contingency planning, disaster-risk-reduction, and conflict-risk-reduction measures must be developed well before an emergency happens in order to achieve high-impact results."
An erroneous perception also exists among many UK citizens that "all is well" despite the harsh realities of the facts involved about the frequency and inevitability of natural and manmade disasters taking place in their own communities. For instance, Sharp (2003, p. 14) cautions that, "[Eighteen per cent] of UK organisations had a major disruption in the past year, such as the loss of IT, people or skills; supply chain failures; fire, flood/storm; power failures and pressure group protests." In sum, then, the investments in preparation and planning for emergencies are monies well spent, but convincing all of the stakeholders that are involved (especially the taxpayers) of the need remains problematic (Sharp 2003).
The post-September 11, 2001 and now July 7, 2005 world in which the United Kingdom exists has changed in substantive ways by introducing a wide range of non-state terrorist activities that have brought many Western national governments to a standstill following devastating attacks on public and private sector infrastructures. As a result, the need for timely emergency response and recovery planning has never been greater, and the UK's emergency response and recovery planning document was shown to be a comprehensive and viable approach that includes region-specific planning as well as the main features that are recommended for inclusion…
The changes to the emergency response and recovery plan are highly congruent with the observations provided by Abbas (2007, p. 192) who reports, "In the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 bombings in London, and with the dawning realization that the terrorists were home-grown British citizens, much political and media attention has focused upon examining potential pathways to radicalization, and identifying possible sites that may aid and abet the transmission of extremist Islamist viewpoints and violent action."
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