People are in the dark about what to do in the event of a major incident – like a flood, riot or cybercrime – striking their community, according to research commissioned by leading public sector risk experts Zurich.
According to an Ipsos MORI survey of over 1,000 adults in Great Britain, around two thirds (64%) of the general public say they don’t feel well-informed about what to do in the event of a major incident in their local area. The research was conducted as part of Zurich’s report Risk and Response,* published next month, which reveals a worrying lack of preparedness for emergencies in local communities.
Three quarters of public sector leaders (76%) believe their local communities would be resilient in a major emergency, with the resources and knowledge needed to help themselves.
Yet just 13% of the public recall having seen any guidance from their local council on what to do in an emergency, suggesting a lack of effective communication between local authorities and the communities they serve.
Encouragingly however, nearly three quarters (74%) of the general public claim they would consider themselves personally responsible for getting involved in helping their local area return to normal should a major incident strike their community. And 69% are confident in the ability of their local community to respond effectively to a major incident.
Anne Torry, Managing Director at Zurich Municipal, said:
"Today’s public service providers have to prepare for a plethora of major incidents, which are becoming more varied in nature. At the same time, austerity is having a serious impact on much of the public sector, meaning it will be more challenging to recover from major incidents like flooding, civil unrest or cybercrime in the future.
“So, there will be a greater onus on the public to help their communities recover after an incident – last year’s community clean-up in the aftermath of the riots is just one example.
“While the majority of local authorities will have put measures in place to communicate emergency planning with their communities, this research suggests that message simply isn’t getting through. As always, prevention is better than cure and councils, along with the wider public sector, need to use every means possible to communicate and disseminate information to local residents.”
Zurich Municipal suggests the following actions for local authorities to take in helping prepare for a major incident:
Providing regular newsletters allows an organisation to inform the community about what information they can expect after an event and how they can access it
Utilising all types of modern media sources, meaning information can be delivered instantly to the community, which can be crucial in the recovery phase. However, it is important not to rely just on online communication sources, as these could fail in some emergencies
Post event, the objective should be to ensure that information is delivered to widest possible audience, as quickly as possible. It should give advice on what actions to take, how they can help and what the organisation is currently doing. It can be dangerous to underestimate the appetite for information, which should be regularly updated.
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