NS6552: Civil Emergencies and Critical Incident Management

NS6552: Civil Emergencies and Critical Incident Management

Please note this module descriptor is indicative of the structure of this course and may be subject to change.

Module Title Civil Emergencies and Critical Incident Management
Module Code NS6552
Module Tutor John Clay-Davies
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 15
Level of Study 6
Brief Description

This module gives students the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the legislative framework which underpins the work of UK Government and the emergency and armed services when planning and responding to an emergency.  Students will gain insight into how the emergency services, armed forces and multi-agency partners prepare and come together in a co-ordinated response to an emergency under the banner of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) and analyse the role of the police within a joint emergency services operation.  Examples of high-profile critical and major incidents will be used to identify how best practice has been informed by adopting a lessons-learned approach.

Using a case study based on a real-life event, students will have the opportunity to examine the Bronze, Silver, and Gold command structure used by the emergency services, and explore the work of the Strategic Coordination Centre when responding to an emergency.  The case study will also provide an opportunity for learners to evidence their ability to work as part of a policing team responding to an unplanned civil emergency. Learning will cover key influences on the decision-making process and knowledge and use of the National Decision Making Model (NDM) as an aid to decision making and the exercise of officer discretion.  Barriers to effective decision making (e.g. bias, risks, public opinion etc) will be explored together with effective decision making and strategies to mitigate these.

Working as a group, students will assume the role of Police Constables and participate in two consecutive table-top (hydra-style) exercises based on a developing civil emergency.  Students will perform the role of ‘first responder’ and be expected to conduct initial incident assessment as part of a dynamic risk assessment by demonstrating use of the JESIP ‘M/ETHANE’ emergency procedures mnemonic as a guide to decision-making during the early stages of managing a major, or multi-agency, incident.

Students will be exposed to a variety of situations during each of the two table-top exercises and will explore how changing circumstances can exert influence on the decision-making process and consider how this may impact on their role as a Police Constable involved in policing the emergency.  Students will be required to develop a working strategy (as per the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice – Civil Emergencies) and demonstrate their ability to make evidence-based decisions using the National Decision Making model (NDM) and / or the Joint Decision Making Model (JDM).  Students will review decisions made at the Silver and Bronze Command level and explore heuristics and biases that may be present in decision-making, which may impact on community safety and community confidence in policing. 

Students are encouraged develop their approach to Evidence-Based Policing (EBP) by considering the effect of a policing intervention and reflecting on the impact of their actions in a specific context.  Students will reflect on how the 'best available' evidence applies to their day to day work, and learn from their successes and failures. This approach should mean students can recognise when to ask questions, challenge accepted practices and innovate in the public interest.  A focus on self-assessment and reflection is encouraged to foster a life-long approach to learning and professional development.

Students will take part in a tutor-led structured de-brief to tease-out the lessons learned for future policing practice and consider the implications of civil litigation / proceedings and disclosure.  The de-brief will also enable students to critically review policing incidents in which ethical considerations have been crucial to the decision-making process.

Students will deliver a series of summative presentations linking lessons learned to key events that happened during the table-top exercises to relevant legislation and guidance, including the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice for

Indicative Syllabus

Topics covered in this module encompass each of the Learning Outcomes and indicative content contained in the National Policing Curriculum for the College of Policing Pre-Join Degree in Professional Policing as identified below,


Response Policing – Outcome 6 – indicative content 6.1 – 6.4

Response Policing – Outcome 7 – indicative content 7.1 – 7.4

Response Policing – Outcome 9 – indicative content 9.1 – 9.4

Response Policing – Outcome 10 – indicative content 10.1 – 10.3



Decision Making and Discretion – Outcome 6 – indicative content 6.1 – 6.5

Decision Making and Discretion – Outcome 7 – indicative content 7.1 – 7.3

Decision Making and Discretion – Outcome 8 – indicative content 8.1

Decision Making and Discretion – Outcome 9 – indicative content 9.1 – 9.3

Decision Making and Discretion – Outcome 10 – indicative content 10.1 – 10.2

Decision Making and Discretion – Outcome 11 – indicative content 11.1 – 11.3



which include: Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (2004) and Regulations (2005); Local Resilience Forum, planning and responding to civil emergencies, definition of a ‘critical incident’ and ‘major incident’ roles and responsibilities at a major incident; command and control; Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP); primacy rule at a major incident; decision making in complex and unpredictable circumstances; stress and the incident commander; risk assessment; process of incident recovery; structured debrief; and lessons-learned; justification of decisions in the context of judicial reviews; disclosure; civil litigation  / proceedings.

Learning Outcomes

A student passing this module should be able to demonstrate:

1. Application of the National Decision Making Model (NDM) / Joint Decision Making Model (JDM) and other relevant techniques, to identify key elements of problems and choose appropriate methods for their resolution in a considered manner.

2. Higher order skills of reflection, judgement and problem solving.

3. Ability to critically examine a response to a civil emergency and present lessons learned using a prescribed format.

Learning and Teaching Activities Scheduled Contact Hours: 24
Independent Learning Hours: 126
Assessment (For further details see the Module Guide) 001: 100% Assignment: Individual: 3000 words or equivalent
Special Assessment Requirements
Indicative Resources The current reading list can be found in the Module Guide, which your lecturer should make available via Moodle.

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