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