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Preparing Scotland: Scottish Guidance on Preparing for Emergencies


02 Co-operation


  • Category 1 and Category 2 responders must co-operate locally.
  • Local co-operation takes two forms. Responders must co-operate individually with other responders and jointly through a Strategic Co-ordinating Group.
  • The Strategic Co-ordinating Group involves all local Category 1 and 2 responders. The Group has a role in both preparation and response to emergencies. All local responders must be effectively represented at meetings of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group. Category 2 responders have the right to attend if desired and must attend if requested. Responders not covered by the Act have a role in the Groups' activities.
  • Each Strategic Co-ordinating Group should agree its remit and nominate a Chair and Secretary. It must meet at least every six months.
  • Local responders may co-operate with others outside their local resilience area.
  • Other forms of co-operation are permitted. They include agreeing joint arrangements for discharge of functions and nominating "lead responders" to act on behalf of others.


2.1 Co-operation involves Category 1 and Category 2 responders working together to address the full range of civil protection duties across their organisational boundaries. Co-operation may take place within a multi-agency setting or directly between two or more responders.

2.2 Co-operation under the Act is not meant to replace the normal interaction between responders. It is expected that organisations not specifically captured by the Act, for example, the Procurator Fiscal, the voluntary sector, the Armed Forces or businesses, will be fully involved with local responders dependent on local circumstances.

2.3 It is intended that the Act will reinforce partnership working at all levels. The focus for local partnerships will be the Strategic Co-ordinating Groups ( SCG) established in each police area. All Category 1 and 2 responders with functions exercisable in a police area will be members of the SCG. 1

Direct co-operation by local responders

2.4 Co-operation must take place between Category 1 and Category 2 responders. 2 The relationships are clearly defined. Category 1 responders must co-operate with each other in connection with the performance of their duties, such as the development of risk assessments and plans. They should also be involved with activities to maintain and improve local arrangements, such as training and exercising.

2.5 Category 2 responders must co-operate with Category 1 responders, but not to the extent that the demands of the Category 1 responders effectively place a Category 1 responsibility on them "by the back door". For example, if the Category 2 organisation has not undertaken a risk assessment in relation to a particular hazard, it cannot be compelled to do so by a Category 1 organisation seeking information or co-operation.

2.6 Category 2 responders may also be involved with activities to maintain and improve plans maintained under the Act. For example, Category 2 responders must take part in exercising those plans, on request, if that request is reasonable. The test of reasonableness includes not only whether the Category 1 responder requires this involvement to exercise its plan effectively, but also the number of other exercises the Category 2 responder is being asked to take part in and the extent of attendance and participation requested.

2.7 Category 1 and Category 2 responders will also be expected to co-operate outside their local resilience area including cross border co-operation. 3 The relationships are clearly defined.

2.8 Many Category 2 responders have pre-existing requirements on them under other legislation to assess risk and to prepare planning arrangements (including, for example, their licence conditions from the regulator, or by direction of a Minister). Under the Act they may expect co-operation in undertaking these activities from Category 1 and Category 2 responders.

Multi-agency co-operation - the Strategic Co-ordinating Group ( SCG)

2.9 The principal local forum for multi-agency co-operation is the Strategic Co-ordinating Group. 4SCGs must be established in each Police area. The SCG is the place in which the formal duty to co-operate in a single forum is met by all Category 1 and Category 2 responders. It is not a statutory body as such and has no legal personality, nor does it have powers to direct its members. It is intended to be the focal point for local resilience building and for preparing for response to emergencies. The SCG should agree its membership and role.

2.10 The SCG should ensure the effective delivery of those duties under the Act that need to be developed in a multi-agency environment through:

  • acting as the focus for the development of civil protection in its area
  • acting as the focus in preparing for planned response to local emergencies and external emergencies affecting the Police area
  • adopting a systematic, planned and co-ordinated approach to risk management
  • producing a Community Risk Register for its police area
  • addressing the risks identified in accordance with its members' functions
  • making arrangements for the effective management of response to emergencies in its area including:
    • preparing an integrated emergency management framework for response to any emergency affecting its area
    • publishing information about identified risks and the joint arrangements to deal with their consequences
    • maintaining arrangements to raise awareness, warn and inform the public regarding local risk
    • supporting their local authorities in advising and assisting business and voluntary organisation on business continuity management
    • establishing an annual programme for maintenance and development of local arrangements
    • preparing to implement arrangements, when necessary for a co-ordinated and managed response
    • acting as a conduit for information flow between local responders and central government in both preparation and response, review, training and exercising
    • considering central government policy initiatives in the area of civil protection
    • reviewing lessons learned from incidents and exercises, local, Scottish, UK and international
    • co-ordinating multi-agency exercises and training; and
    • encouraging close working across organisations which have an important role in civil protection but are not Category 1 or 2 responders, according to local circumstances.

2.11 The SCG is intended as a key element of the Scottish multi-level planning and response framework (as set out in Section 1 of Preparing Scotland). It also reflects a key principle of UK civil protection arrangements that the initial response to most emergencies is delivered at the local level.

2.12 Because of its importance, the SCG should only attract the most senior level of representation, those on whom the ultimate responsibility for meeting their organisation's obligations falls.

2.13 In the absence of a Chief Officer Category 1 and Category 2 responders must be effectively represented at SCG meetings. 5 That means that Category 1 and Category 2 responders need to be represented by individuals who have the right combination of seniority and expertise to be able to speak with authority on behalf of their organisations.

2.14 Responders from one particular sector of Category 1 or 2 (local authorities, health services, utilities, etc.) may choose to be represented if they are not able to attend all meetings. It is particularly important that representatives do represent their sector and are responsive to the views of responders in their sector. There are a number of tests which can be applied to judge the effectiveness of sectoral representation. An effective representative organisation:

  • has the authorisation of the other local members of its sector to represent them;
  • is aware of the proceedings of any SCG sub-groups and is ready to take forward issues raised by local members of the sector in the sub-groups;
  • is able to explain current structures, policies, priorities and events in civil protection affecting its sector; and
  • ensures that the local members of the sector it represents are kept fully informated of issues discussed and are invited to submit their comments, or to attend particular SCG meetings as appropriate.

2.15 All Category 1 and Category 2 responders should take part in the work of any sub-groups as necessary. Membership of sub-groups should be opened to all local responders, as appropriate. Representation at this level is also permitted.

2.16 The SCG is required to meet at least every six months. 6 These meetings should be held on a regular cycle. Meetings could be held more frequently if the SCG agreed that was necessary. Special meetings of the Group may be necessary if an emergency was likely to occur or had occurred. Because its focus is strategic, the SCG should meet relatively infrequently and the business of meetings should be thoroughly prepared so that the time of senior people is used well. The SCG may establish subordinate groups to undertake tasks on its behalf.

2.17SCG meetings should have a clear agenda and papers should be circulated sufficiently in advance of routine meetings to allow appropriate preparation. A clear record of meetings should be kept and circulated promptly.

2.18 Regardless of the way in which organisations are represented at SCG meetings, all papers should be circulated to all Category 1 and Category 2 responders. 7

Leadership of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group

2.19 Two aspects of leadership should be considered by the SCG, chairing of its meetings and the administration of its activity.

2.20 The task of chairing the routine meetings of the SCG does not necessarily need to fall to a particular Category 1 responder. The choice of Chair is a matter for local determination.

2.21 In preparing plans it should be borne in mind that leadership of response to an emergency should be determined by the nature of the emergency and arrangements made locally. In many emergencies the Chief Constable will lead. Local arrangements should accommodate the need for flexibility in responding to a range of emergencies and the choice of lead would reflect the effects of the particular emergency. For example, the Health Service may lead response to a pandemic event.

2.22 The Chair and Secretary of the SCG in preparation must be formally agreed and contact details made known to all partners.

The role of Category 2 responders in co-operation

2.23 Category 2 responders have a narrower range of obligations under the Act and the Regulations. Category 1 responders need to develop effective relationships with Category 2 responders and address issues in which Category 2 responders are expert. However, there is a need to avoid unnecessary engagement of Category 2 responders in the generality of civil protection work.

2.24 In return, Category 2 bodies should co-operate in a way which is consistent with the obligations set out in the Regulations. They must respond to reasonable requests, 8 and they must adhere to the principles of effective representation. 9

2.25 Category 2 responders will not be obliged to attend all SCG meetings. Instead, attendance will be determined on the basis of two complementary principles - the right to attend and the right to invite. In either case the principles of effective representation apply.

2.26 Under the right to attend, Category 2 bodies will be able to send representatives to any meeting of the SCG or make a relevant written submission, as they deem necessary. 10 Category 2 responders will make that decision on the basis of the proposed agenda for the SCG meeting.


2.27 There will be a need for work to take place outside the normal meetings of the SCG.For example, that work will include:

  • progressing the SCG's agreed work programme
  • regular maintenance of joint arrangements:
    • Risk assessment and management
    • Managing the Integrated Emergency Management process
    • Reviewing capabilities
    • Joint training and exercising
    • Continuous improvement and monitoring standards
  • developing arrangements with particular sectors of the local community
  • developing subordinate arrangements where the size of the Police area or number of local responders suggests that effectiveness would be enhanced
  • specialist activities such as chemical incidents, coastal pollution, personal support, media, CBRN, transport emergencies, etc.
  • ad hoc "task and finish" groups to develop particular projects

2.28 The SCG may establish groups to take forward these and other tasks. Most SCGs have established Working Groups to take forward matters of general interest and manage projects.

Other aspects of co-operation under the Act

There are additional elements of co-operation that support duties under the Act.

2.29Cross border co-operation11 - Where necessary, regulations allow for cross border co-operation between Scottish local responders and their counterparts in other parts of the UK. Category 1 responders can seek co-operation and Category 1 and 2 responders may co-operate. This will be of interest regarding co-operation with responders such as the HSE and Maritime and Coastguard Agency that have remits that cover the UK. Co-operation between different administrations will be helpful for those who share a border.

2.30Joint discharge of functions12 - A Category 1 responder may make arrangements with another responder for the joint performance of a duty, or for a duty to be performed on its behalf.

2.31 In some instances Category 1 responders may wish to go beyond bilateral co-operation and enter into joint arrangements with other Category 1 responders. This is permitted by the Regulations and can take two forms:

  • exercising responsibilities jointly. In this case, two Category 1 responders would agree that an aspect of the duties was best performed by working together. For example, a number of local authorities might decide to form a single civil protection unit and staff and fund it jointly to deliver their responsibilities under the Act; and
  • delegating activities entirely. For example, a local authority might decide to delegate its risk assessment activity to the local Fire Authority. However, the responsibility for effective performance of the duties remains with individual Category 1 responders.

2.32Nomination of a lead responder13 - Where civil protection duties fall locally on more than one Category 1 responder they may agree that one shall take the lead role or perform a duty on behalf of the other responders. Local responders may consider identifying a lead responder for particular duties, except those duties relating to warning and informing the public. See Chapters 5 and 6 of this guidance. The roles of the lead responder and the non-lead responders are clearly defined. The identification of a lead responder relates to functions and duties under the Act and does not require the lead responder, necessarily, to take the lead in response to an emergency. For example, a lead responder may lead in the activity to make and maintain a specific plan in which the lead may taken by another responder when the particular emergency occurs.