Publication - Advice and guidance

Preparing Scotland: resilience guidance

"Core" guidance on resilience, covering resilience philosophy, principles, structures and regulatory duties

90 page PDF

3.1 MB

90 page PDF

3.1 MB

Preparing Scotland: resilience guidance

90 page PDF

3.1 MB


This chapter sets out resilience governance structures in Scotland, at both national (Scottish and UK) and local levels. It is broken into two parts: the 'preparation' stage and the 'response/recovery' stage, highlighting the bodies involved and their respective roles.


Cabinet Sub-Committee: Scottish Government Resilience ( CSC SGoR)

In preparation, the role of CSC SGoR is to give ministerial oversight to strategic policy and guidance in the context of resilience in Scotland. The CSC ( SGoR) meets in preparation for emergency response and keeps abreast of matters related to promoting and improving civil protection, contingency planning and preparing for specific contingencies such as pandemic influenza.

Whilst acknowledging the independence of Category 1 responder agencies to undertake preparation pertaining to resilience, such preparation will generally take place within an overarching structure of legislation and national guidance. It is the role of CSC SGoR to approve new national guidance and to make decisions on the taking forward of new legislation.

Resilience Advisory Board for Scotland (RABS)

The Resilience Advisory Board for Scotland (RABS) acts as a strategic policy forum for resilience issues, providing advice to Scottish Ministers and the resilience community on how best to ensure that Scotland is prepared to respond effectively to major emergencies. It also promotes a collective view of resilience, including business continuity, response and recovery.

Chaired by the Scottish Government's Director General for Governance and Communities, RABS includes senior officers from Category 1 responder agencies and representatives from Category 2 responder agencies, SCGs, the Met Office, the military, and the voluntary sector. Members also include senior officials from relevant Scottish Government policy teams, Transport Scotland, and a Cabinet Office observer.

In addition, RABS commissions and oversees the work of 'task and finish' groups set up to consider specific capability issues, such as the resilience of Scotland's food supply.

Strategic Co-ordinating Groups - Chairs (SCG Chairs)

SCG Chairs is a grouping of the eight chairpersons of the SCGs. This group represents the strategic leaders of the Category 1 responder agencies and other key players from within the SCG structure. The SCG Chairs group meets at regular intervals with senior officials of Scottish Government and plays a key role in the formulation of policy and practice.

The SCG Chairs group does not normally play a role in an emergency response (although as the chairs of individual SCGs each member of this group is likely to have a key role before and during emergencies).

Strategic Co-ordinating Groups Forum

The SCG Forum consists of the SCG Co‑ordinators and representatives of the Scottish Government Resilience Division. The group has been established to facilitate information sharing, the development of good practice and to promote consistency in preparation for response to emergencies in Scotland. The Forum has no role in emergencies and is established solely as part of the wider preparation for emergencies.


Cabinet Sub-Committee: Scottish Government Resilience (CSC SGoR)

CSC ( SGoR) sets the strategic direction for Scotland's response. It acts on behalf of, and reports to, the Scottish Cabinet. In the response phase, membership of CSC ( SGoR) is determined by the nature of emergency.

The procedures that support CSC SGoR will be activated flexibly. A judgement will be made by the Scottish Government in each set of circumstances about precisely what elements need to be activated. An essential element of a national response will be the activation of the Scottish Government Resilience Room ( SGoRR). SCGs will be advised of the activation of SGoRR as soon as is practicable.

SGoR (Officials) SGoR (O)

SGoR (O) is a group of senior Scottish Government officials drawn from all relevant Directorates (i.e. government policy areas such as Business and Industry, Health, Environment etc) 13 , plus external members on occasion. It will:

  • analyse information received by the SG and provide advice to the Cabinet Sub‑Committee ( SGoR) on options for handling the consequences of the emergency
  • oversee implementation of decisions taken by the CSC ( SGoR)
  • ensure co-ordination of Scottish Government activity.

Scottish Government Resilience Room ( SGoRR)

When the scale or complexity of an emergency is such that some degree of central government co-ordination or support becomes necessary, Scottish Government will activate its emergency response arrangements through SGoRR. The precise role of SGoRR will vary depending on the nature of the emergency.

SGoRR will:

  • provide strategic direction for Scotland
  • co-ordinate and support the activity of SG Directorates
  • collate and maintain a strategic picture of the emergency response with a particular focus on response and recovery issues
  • brief Ministers
  • ensure effective communication between local, Scottish and UK levels, including the co-ordination of reports on the response and recovery effort
  • support response and recovery efforts as appropriate, including the allocation of scarce Scottish resources
  • determine the Scottish Government's public communication strategy and co-ordinate national public messages in consultation with SCGs and other key stakeholders
  • disseminate national advice and information for the public, through the media
  • if appropriate, liaise and work in partnership with the UK Government.

To achieve the above, clear and comprehensive communication between SGoRR and all agencies involved is necessary.

In its activity SGoRR will be supported by the local arrangements established by SCGs. This function will, in general, be built upon existing arrangements created during preparation.

The Scottish Government's Resilience Division will lead the operation of SGoRR. Typically, SGoRR will include staff from the main affected Scottish Government Directorates and representatives of relevant agencies.

It will gather and process information from external responders, either directly or via SCGs and disseminate it to SGoR (O) (see below).

In the event that UK level arrangements are initiated, SGoRR will work with the Cabinet Office Briefing Room ( COBR - see below), the Scotland Office and other relevant departments in Whitehall. SGoRR will be the main point of contact for the eight SCGs.

The Scottish Government recognises that local decisions must be taken locally. It will not interfere in local emergency response arrangements unless specifically empowered to do so by emergency regulations.

Scottish Government Communications Team

The designated communications team will support Ministers in dealing with the media. Its leader will usually be located in SGoRR.

External support for SGoRR

Further information and advice for SGoRR will come from the Scottish Police Information and Co-ordination Centre ( S-PICC) which may be activated to co-ordinate mutual aid between police forces and collect information from Scottish police forces on the emergency and its wider impacts. S-PICC will liaise directly with those in SGoRR.

The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service also employs a national information and co‑ordination function which would assist SGoRR in a manner similar to S-PICC. Work is ongoing to further develop this function.

Other agencies may be represented at SGoRR and the co-ordination structures pertaining to these would be determined by the particular circumstance of the emergency.

Scottish Government Liaison Officers ( SGLO)

The Scottish Government may send a Liaison Officer ( SGLO) to support responders. SGLOs can help to ensure effective communication between responders and government; act as the principal contact for government officials or Scottish Ministers; facilitate joint meetings and provide general government-related advice and support.

UK arrangements

When the particular circumstances of an emergency require co-ordination and support from the UK Government, the Cabinet Office will consider mobilising UK Government plans. If the decision is to mobilise those plans, links will be established with the Scottish Government's corporate arrangements.

Where required, the Cabinet Office will appoint the most appropriate lead department to handle the emergency.

Further details of the UK Government's emergency response can be found at

The Cabinet Office Briefing Room ( COBR)

The UK Government maintains dedicated crisis management facilities within COBR. These facilities provide a venue for collective decision-making and communication during emergencies. Officials in COBR will identify options and prepare advice on the issues on which UK Ministers will need to focus.

COBR is fully activated in the case of emergencies with wide or prolonged impacts requiring sustained support from a number of UK departments and/or the Scottish Government. For example, this would apply to emergencies such as a significant terrorist attack, a serious outbreak of animal disease or emergencies affecting large numbers of British citizens overseas.

For emergencies affecting Scotland, links would be established with the Scottish Government. Scottish Ministers and officials would attend COBR and the Scottish Cabinet will inform, advise and take account of the decisions made by UK Ministers.

In response to the most serious (catastrophic) emergencies affecting the UK (for example a terrorist attack of the scale of September 11th or an industrial accident of the scale of Chernobyl) the Home Secretary or Prime Minister would chair meetings of COBR.

In the exceptional case of a state of emergency being invoked under the emergency powers provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act, the function of the UK Government may change from consultation and co-ordination to empowered direction. A Scottish Emergency Co-ordinator would be formally appointed with powers to lead and direct a response 14 .

Liaison between the UK Government and the Scottish response

In certain emergencies, a UK Government Liaison Team ( GLT) may be despatched to liaise with the appropriate responder agency. The GLT will be a multidisciplinary team led by a UK Government Liaison Officer ( GLO).