HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S “WARNING AND INFORMING

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					                                                                     Agenda Item No.


HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

COMMUNITY SAFETY AND CULTURE CABINET PANEL
                                                                         7
WEDNESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 2009 AT 2.00 P.M.


HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S “WARNING AND INFORMING”
ACTIVITIES IN RESPONSE TO THE CIVIL CONTINGENCIES ACT (2004)

Report of the Head of the Safety Emergency & Risk Management Unit

Author:       John Boulter                 Tel: 01992 555951

Executive Member: Keith Emsall

1.     Purpose of report

       To inform the Community Safety Panel of the results of two recently
       published surveys, which establish the current levels of awareness of
       local civil protection arrangements.


2.     Summary

       The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 requires Category 1 organisations
       such as the emergency services, NHS Trusts, local authorities, the
       Environment Agency etc. to deliver civil protection based on six key
       themes. Amongst those themes is a requirement to have plans in place
       to warn and inform the public about significant threats or hazards to
       which they might be exposed and provide advice and information about
       what to do in the event of an emergency occurring.

       The county council works with its partners in Hertfordshire Resilience -
       the county’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to implement a multi-
       agency “warning and informing” strategy which builds on existing
       networks and relations with local media to deliver an agreed
       communication plan.

       One of the most significant challenges in the delivery of a warning and
       informing strategy has been a lack of data to help in evaluating the
       success of warning and informing initiatives. However, the results have
       now been received from the “place survey”, which was undertaken as
       part of the Combined Area Assessment (CAA) and which, amongst
       many other things, addresses National Indicator 37 (“awareness of
       local civil protection arrangements”) – see Appendix A. Furthermore,
       the county council’s own residents’ survey also contained a question
       aimed at establishing the current levels of awareness of local civil
       protection arrangements.

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       Despite the wide range of activity which has been undertaken in the
       course of the last year, the figures from the place survey would suggest
       that little progress has been made in raising general levels of
       awareness. However, the LRF’s own strategy has been to focus its
       efforts, not on the general population but on particular target groups
       such as advice to carers and vulnerable groups - where it is felt
       greater overall benefit can be derived. Moreover, whilst results from the
       surveys have only been published relatively recently, the actual
       surveys took place in the autumn of 2008, when some of the warning
       and informing campaigns and accompanying support material were still
       in their infancy.

       It was hoped that the outcome of the NI 37 indicator where the same
       question has been posed nationwide would not only provide some
       important baseline data but might also highlight areas in other parts of
       the country where significant figures were being achieved and where
       there may be indications of a particularly effective strategy / campaign.
       Whilst figures for Hertfordshire are comparatively lower than for LRFs
       elsewhere in the region, the “headline” figures do not indicate any
       locality where significant success has been achieved.

       A base line has, however, now been established and this in itself is an
       important step forward. It will enable the LRF to more effectively
       evaluate any future initiatives aimed at improving current awareness
       levels of civil protection arrangements.


3.     Recommendations

       That the Panel notes the results of the surveys and the warning and
       informing activity undertaken to date and comments on what
       involvement the Panel might wish to have in this area of resilience
       activity in the future.




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4.     Background

       Requirements of the Act

4.1    The Civil Contingencies Act places a statutory duty on the Authority to
       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. It is
       important to note, however, that in raising awareness of risk and
       response plans, the Regulations require Category 1 (emergency
       services, local authorities, NHS trusts etc.) to have regard to the need
       not to alarm the public unnecessarily.

4.2    The Regulations permit Category 1 responders to collaborate with
       each other in delivering this duty and the County Council works closely
       with fellow partners within Hertfordshire Resilience - the county’s Local
       Resilience Forum (LRF) to deliver it’s warning and informing
       responsibilities. Many of the warning and informing initiatives
       undertaken to date by the various members of the LRF have been
       undertaken using the Hertfordshire Resilience “branding” as opposed
       to using the logo of any one of its member organisations. This was also
       the approach adopted previously by the Hertfordshire Emergency
       Services Major Incident Committee (HESMIC) - the organisation which
       fulfilled the role of the LRF prior to the CCA, some of whose warning
       and informing material is still in circulation.

4.3    The second part of the communications duty relates to arrangements
       for warning, informing and advising the public at the time of an
       emergency. There are occasions, depending on the nature of the
       emergency when different organisations will take on the “lead”
       responsibility for warning, informing and advising the public. In many
       instances, the lead agency for warning and informing the public will be
       the organisation which leads on the response to an emergency and
       accordingly the LRF response plan recognises that this role is often
       likely to be filled by the police.

4.4    Within Hertfordshire Resilience, protocols have been agreed to reflect
       the fact that other agencies may take on this role. For example, in a
       wide-area emergency, caused by flooding, where it is clear that the role
       of lead Category 1 responder for warning, informing and advising,
       which is likely to fall to the Environment Agency, does not absolve non-
       lead responders from playing their part. In similar wide-area examples,
       such as health emergencies, the lead Category 1 responder with
       responsibility for warning and informing will be a health organisation,
       such as the Health Protection Agency (HPA), but it will also require
       assistance from other Category 1 responders. The county’s plan for
       responding to a pandemic influenza, for example, sets out lead
       responder responsibilities for the various stages of a pandemic.


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       Warning and informing campaigns and activities

4.5    The many partners within Hertfordshire Resilience work together to
       implement a multi-agency “warning and informing” strategy which
       builds on existing networks and relations with local media to deliver an
       agreed communication plan.

4.6    Within the last year, Hertfordshire Resilience’s Communications group,
       with the LRF’s approval, has adopted a more pro-active strategy which
       has included:

                 1. Developing a warning and informing campaign slogan and
                 branding (using Herts Resilience colours)

                 2. Delivering a series of targeted campaigns on a rolling (6
                 monthly) basis, delivery since December.

                 3. Selecting the following target audiences, in order:
                 o Vulnerable adults at home (and their carers)
                 o Home owners inc, housing association and social housing
                    - Demographic information will be used to target less
                    advantaged areas of Hertfordshire.
                 o Young people - helping their families - Demographic
                    information will be used to target less advantaged areas
                    of Hertfordshire.

          Appendix B of this report sets out in detail the activity which has
          been undertaken of late to progress the strategy as well as the
          additional activity which is planned for implementation later in the
          year.

4.6    The warning and informing activity is made up of two complementary
       strands / work streams. The first is to make use of existing media to
       disseminate periodically, but on a regular basis, advice and information
       about preparing for major emergencies. As such a series of press
       releases and mini campaigns are introduced throughout the year, each
       aimed at highlighting either a particular element of preparedness (i.e.
       How to sign up for flood warning alerts on home or mobile phones) or
       on advice in preparation for a particular sort of emergency (preparing
       the car for winter, the importance of sound hygiene practice during an
       influenza pandemic etc.)

4.7    Local media or LRF organisations’ own newsletters, publications (Hert.
       Beat, Horizons etc.) are all used to “drip feed important warning and
       informing information down to the community level. Specialist
       publications or media aimed at a particular section of the Hertfordshire
       community are also used. For example, “50 Matters” Age Concern’s
       monthly publication which has a circulation of over 50,000 has carried
       articles, prepared by Hertfordshire County Council aimed specifically at
       the elderly and their own possible needs during an emergency. The

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       Authority has also worked with Hertfordshire Association for the Blind
       and included information on preparing for emergencies in their “talking
       book” newsletter circulated to all registered members. The LRF has
       also worked with the Herts. Chamber of commerce to pass on
       important advice to the county’s business community via their own
       newsletters and publications.

4.8    The second strand of activity involves the production and distribution of
       written information, produced in differing formats which is distributed
       via a wide variety of networks and systems. Material is made available
       at information points such as council offices and “one stop shops”,
       doctors’ surgeries, libraries etc. The written material is designed to
       convey one or two key messages and signpost people to where they
       might obtain more detailed advice and information. Most often, generic
       advice promoting the “go in, stay in, tune in” (to local radio) message is
       used and the county council’s web site
       (www.hertsdirect.org/emergency) signposted as a reference site where
       much more information about how to help oneself and others can be
       accessed.

4.9    The LRF also commissioned two radio adverts which were played on
       local commercial radio over a two week period in February. The
       adverts (entitled “Poor Mum” and Poor Nan”), both focused on the
       vulnerable living alone and at risk from flooding. They were designed to
       signpost carers to sources of information on what to do in an
       emergency and what could be done to assist their loved ones to be
       that much more prepared to cope with an emergency situation
       (evacuation arrangements, looking after valuable documents,
       medication etc.) This is the first occasion which the LRF has been
       involved in something as high profile as radio advertising and the
       feedback has been very positive and resulted in a significant increase
       in hits on the LRF website where such guidance had been posted. The
       radio adverts themselves have been posted on the LRF website and
       can be downloaded by going to the following link::
       http://www.hertsdirect.org/yrccouncil/hcc/corpservices/sermu/emeresili
       ence/ready/

       Measuring the effectiveness of warning and informing campaigns
       or initiatives.

4.10   A difference in methodology is thought to account for the fact that the
       figures for the HCC residents’ survey are significantly higher than for
       those obtained by the place survey.

4.11   The LRF’s approach, at least in part, to target particular sections of the
       community, may explain why the figures are a little lower than other
       parts of the region, noting also that some of the warning and informing
       initiatives introduced by the LRF (outlined in more detail in Appendix B)
       had still to be introduced or fully filter down to target audiences when
       the surveys were undertaken.

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4.12   Despite the fact that a broadly uniform approach to the provision of
       warning and informing material has been adopted across the county,
       the survey highlighted a range of figures across the ten district and
       borough council areas (10.5 – 14.2). It is noteworthy that in the part of
       the county where considerable additional activity has been undertaken
       to raise local awareness of what to do in a major emergency (as a
       result of the Buncefield explosion and fire), the awareness levels were
       amongst the lowest in the county.

4.13   It was anticipated that where the place surveys highlighted relatively
       high levels of awareness in the country, then further analysis as to
       what activity produced such figures will also be undertaken and, if
       appropriate, similar “good-practice” adopted elsewhere. However, the
       place surveys did not reveal any parts of the country with a particularly
       strong performance in this area. Whilst further analysis of the data will
       no doubt be undertaken within the emergency planning community,
       there is no expectation that any particularly effective practice will come
       to light.

5.     Financial Implications

5.1    There are no financial implications for this report.

Background Papers

Community Risk Register for Hertfordshire Resilience
Preparing for Emergencies (Cabinet Office guidance)
Civil Contingencies Act 2004
HCC “Place” Survey 2008
HCC - Hertfordshire Residents Survey 2008




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