Sharing best practice key to successful resilience strategies


Collaboration and partnerships are key to successful resilience strategies.  This was the overriding message at this year’s EPS Conference at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff.
Nine speakers shared their knowledge and personal experiences of key elements of the UK’s National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, which was presented to parliament by the Prime Minister in November 2015, and before the UK voted for Brexit in June.

In his keynote address, ‘Welcome to Wales’, Assistant Crime Commissioner for Wales, Dr John Rose, stressed that with constantly changing risks, it was important to ensure partnerships worked so they could manage the pressures of shared problems and resilience planning to reduce the potential risks. He described the growth of social media as a blessing and a curse; the latter because it can be a facilitator for confusion and misinformation.

Director, Gareth O'Shea, spoke about Flooding Resilience and the role of Natural Resources Wales to ensure that its natural resources are sustainably maintained, enhanced and used now and for the future. After detailing the background and broad remit of the agency he said its’ key role was as a Category One responder – similar to that of the Environmental Agencies of England and Northern Ireland. They receive more than 9000 calls a year for incidents and issues ranging from wildlife crime and air quality pollution to tree disease and flooding.

“We are getting really good at the response, but need to do more work on the follow up to help victims deal with the impact,” he stated, adding that a lot of progress is being made in creating and sustaining self-supporting resilient communities at a local level.   

A flood awareness campaign launched in 2010 featured giant wellies making their way across Wales. People were invited to talk to team members, who also knocked on doors in communities where the risk of flooding is high. There are now a thousand community flood plans drawn up within Wales aimed at reducing impact on people from the effects of flooding. They have also recruited 300 flood volunteers whom he described as an important part of their current incident response capability.

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 means they have to have a far more joined-up approach when looking at Category 1 situations and manage natural resources far more sustainably and for the long-term to provide the foundation for Well-being in the future. Seven well-being goals are now at the heart of their thinking resulting in long-term prevention rather than response solutions.

“If we are to be truly effective we need to work with those affected through proper engagement – and we need to work with other professionals to achieve this,” said Mr O’Shea.

Heather Shepherd from The National Flood Forum underlined the issues around the impact of flooding on victims. She described the recovery process as similar to that of bereavement and this can take months, even years. Using a number of case studies, she explained how everything from health and well-being, finances, lack of seasonal clothing and caring for pets to dealing with the insurance process and rogue traders, leaves many victims feeling totally out of control with what is happening to them, and communities don’t see there is any cohesion in interested parties.

She said that Cumbria is learning from Storm Desmond in December 2015. Many people are still not back home and need continuing support. More staff are needed and organizational resources are stretched as the NFF continues to work with recovery for the long term and works to create resilient communities by bringing them together with agencies to share and collaborate.

“We need to empower communities with confidence to lead. People need to be able to off-load and be understood and move on. Flood Action Groups help with this and allow them to have a voice to represent their community. We need to recognise their vision, their agenda - they are volunteers. Drive comes from passion and grass roots people affected by passion get results,” said Ms Shepherd.  

Alessia Morris, Head of the Scottish Government’s Natural Hazards Policy Team Resilience Division, and Jim Sharpe, Met Office meteorologist, talked about the remit, partnerships and work of the new National Centre for Resilience, Scotland and some of the particular problems such as windy bridges, landslides, avalanches, space weather, air quality, volcanic ash, CBRN release and resilience in Scotland. They highlighted the collaborative nature of the centre and the opportunities that the Scottish resilience community can access, including drawing from best practice in the field, driving research and tapping into the expertise of the academic community.  

David Parkes, National Counter-Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) said China can dedicate more people to a cyber-attack than we have in the British Army. He talked about some of the new Project Griffin initiatives to help organisations understand and protect themselves and their staff from the threats of cyber-crime and terrorism. The EPS is among those who have signed up for Industry Self Delivery, a version of a CT awareness programme that can be delivered in a more flexible and convenient way. A free two-day workshop will take trainers through each slide, key messages and questions to ensure the course is delivered properly and confidently. Details are on the NaCTSO website.

Jayne Goble and Peter White from Price Waterhouse Coopers spoke of the need for cyber-crisis management plans, with regular exercises, penetration testing and reviews alongside training and awareness around cyber security and phishing attacks.

John Perkins, an Inspector for the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, highlighted some of the latest developments with sports ground safety and security and explored some of the issues that emerged from the Hillsborough Inquests. 

This article first appeared in the September 2016 edition of 'London Calling', the monthly newsletter for the London branch of the Emergency Planning Society. Anna Averkiou is a member of the London branch Executive Board.

Anna Averkiou, 26/09/2016