Civil Contingencies Act

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 delivers a single framework for civil protection in the United Kingdom designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

It improves the UK's ability to deal with the consequences of major disruptive incident by improving the planning process at a local level, building better contacts between agencies and improving the link between local areas and central government.

The Act clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities of local responders, ensuring consistency in civil protection activity and enhancing performance. The Act helps to ensure that the front line responders can deal with the full range of emergencies from localised major incidents through to catastrophic emergencies, by setting out clear expectations and responsibilities.

The Act also modernises the legislative tools available to government to deal with the most serious emergencies, providing greater flexibility, proportionality, deployability and robustness.

Main concepts

  • Designating Category 1 and 2 responders who will be involved in the emergency. Category 1 responders includes the Emergency Services and Local Authorities, whilst category 2 responders includes Utility and Transport companies.
  • A responsibility to jointly plan, respond, risk assess and share information amongst responders.
  • Implementing a regional tier for dealing with larger emergencies.
  • Emergency Powers for responders to manage the incident – such as implementing cordons.

The Act is in two parts:

Part 1 involves arrangements for dealing with emergencies locally and refers to local "responders". These are local agencies such as Slough Borough Council or Thames Valley Police.

Part 2 regards Emergency Powers, which is a mechanism for the Government to bring in special legislation to deal with a wide spread national emergency quickly without having to debate the legislation in Parliament first. There is a triple-lock test for Part 2 of the Act to ensure that it is only used in extreme circumstances.

Duties upon Responders

The main part of the Act clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities of local responders. Local Councils have seven statutory duties, namely:

  • assess the risk of emergencies occurring and use this to inform contingency planning. This is collated at a local level to form a Community Risk Register
  • put in place emergency plans
  • put in place Business Continuity Management arrangements
  • put in place arrangements to make information available to the public about civil protection matters and maintain arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency
  • share information with other local responders to enhance co-ordination; Slough Borough Council does this via the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum. 
  • co-operate with other local responders to enhance co-ordination and efficiency, which Slough Borough Council does via the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum
  • provide advice and assistance to businesses and voluntary organisations about business continuity management.

Cabinet Office information


Useful links