HL Deb 21 May 2004 vol 661 cc47-8WS
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

Guidance on Dealing with Fatalities in Emergencies has been published today on the UK resilience website (www.ukresilience.info). Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. The purpose of this guidance—which is directed primarily at local planners and responders—is to reaffirm, update and consolidate what emergency officers should consider when planning the response to an emergency involving fatalities. It is the product of consultation with a range of stakeholders—central and local government, and the emergency services among others—and builds on earlier guidance in Dealing with Disaster—Revised Third Edition.

Thankfully, mass fatality incidents have not occurred frequently in the United Kingdom. The emphasis of any response will focus on saving lives—but we must be prepared should the worst happen.

But the guidance is by no means intended to be a stand-alone solution to ensure that there is sufficient capacity across the country to deal with such incidents. Work is being taken forward by the Home Office, in collaboration with the regions, the devolved administrations, planners and responders to establish existing levels of national capability. This should inform the development of a framework for a national response.

The guidance will be revisited in light of developments stemming from the Civil Contingencies Bill, currently before Parliament, and a review of the coroner system, set out in the Home Office position paper Reforming the Coroner and Death Certification Service. We will also update and revise the guidance as findings emerge from research and scientific projects, and lessons are learnt from incidents both at home and abroad. Feedback on the guidance should be sent to feedback massfatalitiesguidance@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. It would be helpful to have these by 30 June 2004.