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The Scottish Government’s approach to protecting the public in case of emergency is built around the concept of resilience. This is defined as the ability “at every relevant level to detect, prevent and, if necessary, to handle and recover from disruptive challenges”. Recovery is a fundamental element of resilience.

Once the immediate safety and welfare of people affected by an emergency has been secured, their thoughts will turn towards returning their lives to a form of normality. The public, their elected representatives and the media expect local responders and the Government to take steps to minimise the harm caused by emergencies.

Promoting recovery should be a partnership between members of affected communities, the Resilience Partnership (RP) and the many agencies with a part to play. That partnership should be built upon tried and tested management structures and arrangements that can embrace change and remain relevant to the tasks in hand at all times following emergencies.

The guidance examines the nature of recovery, its place in the resilience process and its management. It will also explore some of the issues those managing recovery may encounter and how they can prepare for the task.

The guidance is targeted at senior managers acting at the strategic level, managers acting at the tactical level and the resilience practitioners/emergency planners who support them in their preparation. It aims to develop a shared understanding of multi-agency recovery arrangements across responding agencies.


What is recovery?

Emergencies may be caused by failure of essential services, technological failures, natural phenomena, exotic diseases, terrorism or a range of other hazards. They may be limited to a single place or affect large parts of Scotland or the UK. The Risk and Preparedness Assessments (RPA) drawn up in each RP area identifies local risks. Overseas emergencies can also affect UK residents, UK nationals visiting other countries, or the economy and environment of the UK.

Recovery is a co-ordinated process of rebuilding, restoring, rehabilitating and, perhaps, regenerating communities following an emergency. Its purpose is to minimise their harmful effects on individuals and communities. It is more than a simple remedial activity, replacing what has been destroyed, or recuperation for those affected. It is a complex social and developmental process. The manner in which recovery is undertaken is critical to its success.

Recovery is best achieved when the affected community is able to exercise a high degree of self-determination and contribute to the process.

Recovery can be wide ranging and long term, involving many more agencies and participants than an initial response to an emergency. It will be subject to close scrutiny from the affected community, its elected representatives and the media. It is essential for the process to be based on sound principles and effective management.

Recovery should begin at the earliest opportunity following an emergency and run concurrently with other activities. While the initial response to an emergency might be relatively short lived, recovery may last for months, years or even decades.

The importance of recovery in the lives of people warrants effective preparation by all responders who will be involved in its execution.

What is covered by this guidance?

This guidance examines the principles of multi-agency management of recovery and its integration with the structures and arrangements made by RPs to manage emergencies. It is not intended to be prescriptive and can be adapted in the light of local circumstances, experience and priorities.

It proposes that RPs and their partners adopt the recovery principles outlined, and prepare for managing recovery from emergencies. In particular that:

  • RPs consider recovery as a key feature of response to any emergency;
  • RPs should prepare for managing recovery as an integral part of their generic arrangements;
  • the lead for managing recovery, through the RP, lies with local authorities;
  • recovery should commence at the earliest stage of response to emergencies;
  • those managing recovery should consider the appropriateness of its management arrangements at all times;
  • the management of recovery should embrace local political processes and structures;
  • the community has a key part to play in its own recovery; and
  • flexibility, adaptability and innovation lie at the heart of the management of recovery.

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