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Supporting material

Authorised Professional Practice

This page is from APP, the official source of professional practice for policing.

First published
Written by College of Policing
Civil emergencies
13 mins read


Checklist 1 – police role in major incidents

The police role in major incidents is to:

  • save life and prevent further loss of life, in conjunction with the other emergency services
  • prevent escalation of the incident
  • coordinate the response phase of the incident (some exceptions apply)
  • coordinate and communicate between the emergency services, local authorities and other supporting organisations, both at the scene of the incident and elsewhere – this includes activation of the strategic coordination group (SCG)
  • secure, protect and preserve the scene
  • provide traffic management and identify evacuation routes (in consultation with the highways authorities and local authority)
  • investigate any criminal offences, obtaining and securing evidence in conjunction with other investigative bodies where applicable
  • collate and disseminate casualty information
  • coordinate the provision of public information, in conjunction with other agencies
  • recover, identify, reconcile and repatriate the deceased in a timely and dignified manner on behalf of the coroner
  • prevent and detect crime
  • conduct a thorough investigation with appropriate authorities
  • lead the establishment of a survivor reception centre and a family and friends reception centre
  • establish documentation teams
  • develop an accurate and coordinated media plan
  • restore ‘new normality’ to the community

Source (National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Emergency Procedures Guidance)

METHANE SitRep template

METHANE situation report (SitRep) by first office at the scene

Major incident declared? (Include details of when and by whom)
Exact location: exact location of the incident, with map references if possible  
Type of incident: the type of incident with brief details of type and numbers of vehicles, trains, buildings, aircraft, etc.  
Hazards: both present and potential  
Access: access routes and suitable provisional rendezvous points (RVPs)  
Number and nature of casualties and fatalities: approximate numbers of casualties (including type and severity)  
Emergency services involved: emergency services present and required  
Date and time of report  
Point of contact  

Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) situation report

Event or incident (For example, adverse weather, such as flooding or snow)
Date and time  
SCG chair (Name and contact number)
Author   SitRep no.  
Summary of guidance for completion of the template
Detailed guidance notes appear at Annex 1, but please observe the following in completing the SITREP template. This SITREP will focus on the strategic dimensions of the emergency and issues arising from that. It will be based on operational reporting, but the strategic issues should not be obscured by operational detail. The red-amber-green (RAG) status will reflect a judgement of the situation, progress and likely developments. There is no detailed method or metrics to follow, just a defensible judgement of these three dimensions. It is critical to report the assessed quality of information, together with the source and time. Where images and tables support situational awareness (for example, maps or progress against key indicators), they will usually be appended in annexes.
Situation overview
A concise and strategic overview of the situation, its impacts and implications. This should be written as a paragraph of text or using a few bullet points, and will draw on the operational (METHANE – see annex) reporting, but will extract and emphasise the strategic dimensions and issues arising.
Summary of the response
A concise overview of the operational response, drawing attention to any current or foreseen resource of capability issues. This should also summarise the Command, Control and Coordination (C3) arrangements that have been established.
Forward look
A summary of possible developments, emerging risks and critical uncertainties that have potential strategic implications for the response and recovery effort.
Resource issues
A summary of current and foreseeable resource and capability issues, highlighting any potential or possible requirements for assistance, such as mutual aid between responders or through MACA.
Working strategy A course of action integrating ends, ways and means to meet policy objectives.
Overarching aim A short, precise and measurable statement of the overall end state you want to achieve. Influenced by, and consistent with, overarching policy.
Objectives A list of steps, phases or tasks that have to be completed in order to achieve the overarching, strategic aim.
Media strategy  
Agency situation reports (based on METHANE) to include summaries of:


  • direct and wider impacts
  • operational response
  • significant risks, emerging issues
  • assumptions and critical uncertainties
  • forward look
  • other resilience issues arising
  • RAG status
  • point of contact, as well as the time and date of the last update or check of the information
Emergency services R A G status  
Police R A G  
Fire R A G  
Ambulance R A G  
Other R A G  


Local authority or authorities R A G status  
Local authority name 
Department name
R A G  
Local authority name 
Department name
R A G  


Health R A G status  
NHS England R A G  
Public Health England R A G  
Local public health R A G  


Met office R A G status  
Current situation R A G  
Forecast R A G  
Likely impacts and risks arising R A G  


Environment agency R A G status Note: For pluvial and groundwater flooding, the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) will also be involved and reporting.
Current situation R A G  
Forecast R A G  
Likely impacts and risks arising R A G  


Transport R A G status  
Highways agency R A G  
Highways authority (see local authority) R A G  
Network Rail R A G  
Train operating company R A G  
Other R A G  


Utilities R A G status  
Electricity R A G  
Gas R A G  
Water R A G  
Telecoms R A G  
Other R A G  


Voluntary sector R A G status  
Organisation name R A G  
Organisation name R A G  


Military R A G status  
Overview R A G  
By unit or by capability area R A G Capability areas would, for example, include logistic  support, EOD (explosives), engineering or air support.


Summary of other involved groups R A G status  
Stalking Threat Assessment Centre (STAC) R A G  
Humanitarian assistance R A G  
Recovery group R A G  


Other responders R A G status Note: when other organisations are involved, their input will usually be included in the report of their ‘sponsoring organisation’.
Organisation name R A G  
Organisation name R A G  


Other issues not covered elsewhere


Date and time of next update  


Guidance notes for completing the SitRep template

Purpose, audience and completion of the SitRep

  • The primary audience for the SitRep is the SCG itself.
  • Additional audiences will include the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Emergency Room, the Cabinet Office Briefing Room committee (COBR), neighbouring or otherwise affected SCGs and other stakeholders requiring strategic situational awareness.
  • The SitRep will usually be drafted in advance of an SCG meeting, then completed and disseminated up, down and/or sideways as required following the meeting, with agreed actions.

The SCG and its support staff should determine who completes the SitRep. The government liaison officer (GLO) or government liaison team (GLT) will have a role in synthesising strategic information from the completed SitRep for onward transmission to COBR.

Logic of the template

  • The template is a starting point for situational reporting at the strategic level.
  • The template can be adapted if necessary to fit the specifics of a situation.
  • However, adaptation should not be done to reflect personal preferences.

Protocols for updating

  • Material that is new or revised since the previous SitRep should be in red text.
  • The date, time and source of material should be prominent and clear.

RAG status

  • The RAG status is an honest and defensible appraisal of three dimensions of the emergency:
    • the situation
    • the response to it
    • foreseeable developments
  • Because three dimensions are being combined into a single indicator, and in the absence of a prescribed method of doing so, the RAG status will reflect the collective judgement of the SCG.
  • There is no merit in ‘talking up’ or taking an unrealistically optimistic view of where things stand and how they are projected to develop.
  • Reading the relevant entry should adequately explain the RAG status given.

Indicators of the three levels are defined as follows.


Situation: The incident is having a strategically significant impact. Normal community business has been significantly affected. 

Response: The response is at, or has exceeded, the limits of capacity or capability, and further resources are required. 

Forward look: The situation is expected to either get worse or remain at this level for the short to medium term.


Situation: The incident is having a moderate impact with issues of strategic concern. Normal community business has been affected, but the situation is being effectively managed. 

Response: The response is being managed, at this time, within current resources and through the activation of local contingency plans and/or coordinated corrective action. Mutual aid might be required in the short to medium term. 

Forward look: The situation is not expected to get any worse in the short to medium term although some disruption will continue.


Situation: There is limited or no strategic impact from the incident. Normal community business has largely returned or is continuing. 

Response: Ongoing response is being managed locally, and within the capacity of pre-planned resources. 

Forward look: The situation is expected to improve with residual disruption being managed.

Reporting provenance and quality

  • The source, time and assessed quality of information should be clearly and prominently reported.
  • Where critical uncertainties exist (such as factors that are unknown, but have the potential to strategically alter the situation if they become known), they should be clearly identified and associated risks set out.

Defining concepts and terms for common understanding

  • Where common understanding of a concept or term is necessary for shared situational awareness it should be clearly explained.
  • Common understanding of terms cannot be assumed – terms should be defined.
  • Where agreed definitions exist, these should normally be adopted and explained (for example, there is a definition of ‘flood’ in the Water Flood and Water Management Act 2010).
  • Acronyms and abbreviations should be minimised, and always explained at their first use in every issue of the SitRep.
  • Examples of content for each of the template sections or cells, including numbers involved, nature and severity of impacts and details as required (note that this is an indicative list, not a comprehensive checklist to report against).
  • Key locations (including grid reference or postcode).
  • Relevant timings (for example, timescale to mobilise assets or shut down a facility).

Impact on health and humanitarian assistance

  • casualties, fatalities and missing persons
  • public health, healthcare and welfare
  • mortuary capacity and operations
  • humanitarian assistance – rest centre and other facilities occupancy
  • primary and secondary healthcare
  • social care

Impact on essential services

  • telecommunications
  • electricity
  • gas
  • fuel supply
  • water supply
  • sanitation
  • sewage
  • waste management
  • burials and cremations
  • transport, aviation, maritime, rail, road, bus
  • postal services
  • status of reserves or alternative supplies

Impact on communities

  • impact on private dwellings
  • impact on public premises/assets
  • homecare
  • vulnerable people and groups
  • evacuation
  • housing and temporary accommodation
  • impact on community transport
  • impact on education
  • community response: nature and extent
  • engagement by the voluntary sector

Economic impact

  • businesses directly and/or indirectly affected (numbers or range if estimate)
  • supply chain consequences
  • impact on workforce
  • impact on tourism
  • rural economy (such as farms and the food production sector)

Environmental impact

  • water contamination
  • land contamination
  • air pollution
  • waste management issues that may be associated with the response
  • impact on agriculture
  • food availability and supplies
  • animal welfare

Criminal justice Issues

  • prisons
  • public order and crime
  • courts
  • protection of property
  • community safety and community cohesion issues

Issues relating to response and capability

  • specified, implied, essential, and potential tasks
  • weather: forecast and associated risks
  • current status of resources and capabilities (dispositions and availability)
  • mutual aid and military support
  • key considerations and assumptions
  • constraints on the operation (for example, time, resources, sustainment, distance, demand and duration)
  • recommended timelines
  • contingency planning
  • capacity of local tier to respond
  • finance

Emerging recovery issues

  • infrastructure and essential services repair and/or reconnection
  • financial assistance (for example, business rate or council tax relief)
  • insurance issues
  • any bureaucracy or 'red tape' challenges
  • the Bellwin scheme
  • future resilience investment
  • lessons (to be) identified

Operational reporting template following METHANE format

Situation overview
Using the METHANE mnemonic provides a brief overview of the type of incident based on information gathered from agencies.
Major incident declared? (Include details of by who and when)
Exact location  
Type of incident  
Number and nature of casualties/fatalities  
Emergency services involved  
Date and time of report  
Point of contact  

Investigative golden hour principles

Victims – identify, support and sensitively preserve evidence.

Scenes – identify, preserve, assess and log.

Suspects – identify, arrest and preserve.

Witnesses – identify, support and prioritise. Note: first account and description of any suspects.

Log – decision, reasons, resources, conditions, circumstances.

Clear lines of responsibility – identify, inform, establish needs/expectations/concerns, primary support, sensitivity.

Physical evidence – preservation, CCTV, escape routes, public transport routes, ambulances.

Prevent contamination – victims, suspects, scenes (such as ambulances), and exhibits.

Intelligence – identify, prioritise, maximise, exploit, consider community and open source Intelligence.

Community concerns – establish through lay advice, Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs), anticipate possible developments, risks to public confidence, rumours.

Media strategy – make best use of press office or trained media representatives in early stages of any incidents. Adopt principles of basic media strategy.

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