Jersey Resilience: New Civil Contingencies Law to be prioritised

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The Government of Jersey takes the resilience of the Island very seriously indeed and is constantly reviewing how it is assessing the challenges ahead and learning from those which we have recently faced.

For example, the Report of the Jersey Independent COVID-19 Review, High Expectations, contained a number of recommendations aimed at ensuring that civil contingencies legislation in the States of Jersey is up to date and fit for planning and responding effectively to future major emergencies, and other potential shocks and risks. In particular, it recommended that a new Civil Contingencies Law be prioritised to be completed within two years.

This recommendation echoed a recommendation made by the Scrutiny Liaison Committee (SLC) / Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who, in their report on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic (Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic by the Government of Jersey), recommended that “the Government should prioritise the replacement of the 32 year old Emergency Powers and Planning (Jersey) Law 1990 in order to ensure that it fully reflects the realities of ministerial governance for future crises, drawing on learnings from the Covid 19 pandemic.”

Proposals

In producing proposals for a new Civil Contingencies Law, the Government wants to ensure that:

  • It covers all experience gained in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including explicitly addressing the areas identified for improvement by the COVID-19 Review and the Comptroller and Auditor General
  • It covers fully the respective roles of the Council of Ministers and of the Emergencies Council in circumstances where a State of Emergency has not been declared, one of the key areas identified by the Comptroller and Auditor General
  • The conclusions are soundly based; it gathers evidence from a wide range of organisations and individuals, not only within the public sector but also in businesses, in the voluntary and community sector, and in Parishes and communities
  • It draws on international leading practice on the legislative arrangements that best support the building of resilience and preparedness across an island state like Jersey.

Areas for improvement

The Government has asked Bruce Mann and Kathy Settle to facilitate the development of proposals for this new legislation. Bruce and Kathy are highly experienced resilience experts who previously led the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office in the UK Government as Director and Deputy Director, including in the introduction and amendment of the UK’s civil contingencies legislation.

They have also supported a range of international governments in improving their emergency preparedness, and a number of Local Resilience Forums in England. In March 2022, they also published an Independent Review of the [UK] Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and its Supporting Arrangements which drew on international best practice in making recommendations on how UK resilience could be improved, which was cited by the UK Government as influencing their thinking in the recently published UK Government Resilience Framework.

The Government has also asked that their study will deliver a report on the current civil contingencies arrangements in the Island of Jersey, including identification of areas for improvement. This study will take place from January to June 2023 and will involve engagement with various stakeholders. It will not only shape the law but also the future planning and response arrangements and any required further mitigations as we continue to respond to global challenges. We will also work on building resilience in collaboration with our neighbour Guernsey as these issues extend beyond our shores.

Resilience building is always a work in progress and we will continue to keep the safety of Islanders and the future of our Island at the core of this endeavour, as evidenced by our recent work on the recent major incidents at Haut du Mont and at sea, the war in Ukraine, and Brexit.

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