Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.


Authorised Professional Practice

Back to authorised professional practice

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

First published
Written by College of Policing
25 mins read

Mobilisation and the Strategic Policing Requirement

Mobilisation is also a key component of the police service’s response to the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR). The SPR highlights the following six threats which have been identified as requiring a national policing response:

  • public disorder
  • civil emergencies
  • organised crime
  • terrorism
  • large-scale cyber incidents
  • child sexual abuse

The National Policing Requirement (NPR) counters these threats through the following.

  • Capacity and contribution – police and crime commissioners and chief constables should have regard to the planning assumptions and ensure they are able to fulfil their force’s contribution to the national capacity in response to threats, harms and other civil emergencies.
  • Capability – the police service should be capable of dealing with the threat contained within the SPR. Consideration should be given to the skills, training and equipment required, ensuring each force’s contribution to the national requirement is effective.
  • Consistency – specialist policing capabilities must be able to deliver an integrated response that is consistent across all police forces and partnership agencies.
  • Connectivity – policing resources need to be connected effectively across force boundaries through national arrangements. Policing capabilities should also be able to connect effectively with key partners when planning for, and responding to, civil emergencies.

This authorised professional practice (APP) presents key principles and an overarching framework for mobilisation that will help the police service meet the SPR threats and meet other policing challenges which require mutual aid.

Key principles

  • The Police Act 1996 provides the legal basis for mobilisation, in particular:
    • section 24 – allows forces in England and Wales to provide aid to each other
    • section 26 – enables forces in England and Wales to provide international assistance
    • section 98 – allows forces in England and Wales to provide aid to Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland
    • section 98(4) – provides for the home secretary to direct chief constables to provide resources in extremis (note – to date this intervention has never been required).
  • Mobilisation may occur in response to spontaneous or pre-planned events.
  • Mobilisation is based on a tiered response. In the context of mobilising people and/or equipment, these tiers are:
    • tier 3 – national level
    • tier 2 – regional level
    • tier 1 – local level.
  • Each tier has its own key roles, structures and processes which facilitate effective mobilisation. See mobilisation landscape.
  • The requirement to mobilise can be activated by any of the three tiers.
  • Mobilisation can include non-Home Office forces, for example, in the event of tier 3 mobilisation. Non-Home Office forces do not, however, form part of the tier 2 regional structure.
  • A force that requests mutual aid is referred to as the ‘host’ force.
  • A force that supplies mutual aid is referred to as the ‘donor’ force.
  • Mercury is the IT web-based system used for mobilising resources. Trained designated users within the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) and all forces have access to the system. See Mercury for further information on when it should be used.
  • National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) (2018/19) National Police Guidelines on Charging for Police Services: Mutual Aid Cost Recovery provides the framework for charging and cost recovery when mobilisation occurs. These guidelines are reviewed annually and all stakeholders are informed of any revisions.

Mobilisation landscape

This section provides information on the structures and responsibilities associated with national, regional and local mobilisation. It also explains the processes for activating mobilisation. Planning, preparing and responding to mobilisation underpin all three tiers.

National (tier 3)

The NPoCC is responsible for mobilisation at a national level. To achieve this, the NPoCC:

  • assesses national capacity and contribution in relation to the SPR and NPR
  • establishes and coordinates continuous testing and exercising regimes to ensure effective capability and mobilisation of national assets when required
  • facilitates mutual aid in a steady state and provides a fit-for-purpose coordination facility in times of crisis
  • ensures effective reporting mechanisms with the Home Office and central government crisis management structures

NPoCC operates a 24/7 service. In addition, it has the capacity and capability to scale up for significant operational mobilisation demand when required (but still maintains unit business continuity). Under these circumstances, NPoCC will declare activation of operational status.

NPoCC works with other national coordination centres which have responsibility for mobilising specialist resources. These include, for example, the Counter Terrorism Coordination Centre (CTCC) and the Police National CBRN Centre. It also liaises with the Scottish Police Information and Coordination Centre (SPICC). SPICC is responsible for coordinating and managing the mobilisation of Police Scotland resources for events where cross-border mutual aid is required. When mobilisation involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and/or Police Scotland, NPoCC will ensure that the host force has the necessary memorandum of understanding (MoU) and legal framework in place to support variations across officers’ police terms and conditions. Devolved administrations, for example, the Northern Ireland Office, will liaise with central government to support these arrangements.

To maintain a national overview of service capacity/capability and inform resource management based on threat and risk considerations, NPoCC undertakes horizon scanning with forces and regions. In addition, NPoCC:

  • liaises with national policing areas (for example, to develop and maintain role profiles, undertake specialist skill capacity assessments)
  • develops and disseminates shared good practice (for example, outcomes of the mobilisation review group and as a result of post-event debriefing)
  • manages the Mercury system
  • on behalf of the College of Policing, coordinate national structured debriefs and course delivery and the dissemination of any relevant national learning from these
  • represent policing within the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP) and disseminate any joint organisational learning identified

NPoCC is also responsible for ensuring national mobilisation situational awareness. Designated officers at force and regional levels (NPoCC single points of contact (SPOCs)) provide information to NPoCC reflecting their force’s/region’s chief officer perspective on current and future events, potential resource implications and local resilience overview. Only information that is considered relevant/significant and appropriate to tier 3 mobilisation should be reported. This process ensures that NPoCC can support forces, partner agencies and stakeholders with timely and accurate information, advice and decision making in response to steady state and crisis situations.

Following routine or significant mobilisations, NPoCC ensures a coordinated post-event debrief process is implemented to capture learning, develop good practice and improve future mobilisation. These structured debriefs also support other related activity, for example, JESIP and NPCC‘s Public Order and Public Safety (POPS) working group.

National mobilisation coordinator

NPoCC’s strategic lead acts as the national mobilisation coordinator (NMC) when NPoCC is required to coordinate large-scale mobilisation in response to either spontaneous or planned events (for example, in response to serious public disorder or a civil emergency).

The NMC:

  • coordinates the provision of all police mutual aid, with the exception of counter-terrorism (CT) assets, in response to requests from chief officers, and provides advice and guidance to achieve national consistency and an equitable spread of resource demands
  • supports the Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations (ACSO) in matters relating to CT and maintains an overview of non-CT mutual aid deployments in support to a CT incident, which ensures an integrated approach to mobilisation between NPoCC and the CTCC
  • provides a single point of contact for forces and coordinates with key strategic partners and stakeholders
  • appoints a deputy NMC to ensure resilience
  • acts as the single, informed point of contact for government regarding the provision of mutual aid, and national capacity and capability
  • provides briefings and NPoCC updates as part of any formal government reporting strategy (note: this role does not imply that the role of the relevant gold commander(s) and/or existing specialist policing functions, such as that provided by CT policing, is withdrawn or limited – the NMC will, as per current arrangements, work closely with key strategic operational leads)
  • leads the NPCC Mobilisation Portfolio
  • ensures the delivery of any fast-time regional/national capacity and capability assessments

When NPoCC’s operational status has been declared and activated, the NMC is supported by a:

  • chief of staff
  • dedicated operations team which manages and leads responses to current activities (ie, within the current 12 to 24 hour period)
  • dedicated planning team which manages and leads the planning input for responses to future operational activities (ie, beyond the current 12 to 24 hour period)
  • dedicated communications team

NPoCC may request that a host force or partner agencies deploy liaison officers to NPoCC, for example, staff association representatives, specialist skill subject matter experts, or intelligence officers. This type of request will depend on the nature and complexity of the event, but it is more likely to be made during a period when NPoCC’s operational status has been declared and activated. Specific liaison roles and responsibilities will be carried out in accordance with previously agreed memorandum of understanding terms.

Mobilisation supply strategy

NPoCC will develop and implement an intelligence-led supply strategy to meet a mutual aid requirement. This will be transparent to forces and regions and will be based on:

  • early proactive engagement with forces to understand internal capacity and capability and the potential mutual aid resource requirement
  • threat and risk assessment, which will include an assessment of the current and prospective national demand on resources
  • consideration of the specific challenges associated with the event, for example:
    • scale and composition of mutual aid
    • nature of the specific specialist resources being requested
    • nature of the event/incident requiring aid
    • duration of mutual aid
    • risk of disorder (if applicable)
    • threat and risk to officers
    • impact of the mutual aid deployment
    • media implications
  • consideration of existing collaborative agreements

The scale and/or nature of the mutual aid requirement may result in an intelligence-led pro rata approach being applied to meet the demand. NPoCC would seek chief officer agreement to implement the approach which supports, as far as is practicable, a fair and equitable distribution of resources. If there is competing resource demand, the NPCC Chair, in liaison with the NMC, will act as a final arbiter in any situation where a decision is required on supplying finite resources (note: to date this level of arbitration has not been required).

Coordinating Gold Commander and NMC

For large scale operations that span multiple forces there is the obvious potential for multiple resourcing requests being made for finite resources to NPoCC. While each chief constable is responsible for policing activity within their own force area and will appoint a Gold Commander responsible for the operation in their force area, it has been recognised that at the national level a coordinating role is beneficial to ensure consistency in approach to resourcing and risk assessment of national-level operations. This role will be referred to as the ‘Coordinating Gold Commander’ and there will be a role for the NMC to work with the Coordinating Gold Commander to agree the overall mobilisation supply strategy. Further information on the role of the Coordinating Gold Commander is contained in the updated APP on Public order.

Strategic briefing and communication

When NPoCC’s operational status has been declared and activated, it is responsible for managing strategic briefing and communication arrangements in relation to mobilisation and service resilience. These are developed on an event-by-event basis in consultation with the chief constable of the host force(s) and relevant government departments.

The factors which may trigger reporting processes to be invoked reflect the challenges associated with the event. There are four strategic briefing and communication levels, and forces should consider aligning relevant elements of their existing plans, for example, major emergency plans, to them.

  • Level 1 – no strategic briefing needed. This option may necessitate informal requests for information and/or briefing.
  • Level 2 – light touch briefing. NPoCC coordinates written briefing, supplemented by regular situational reporting to cover the specific event that has triggered the need for mutual aid.
  • Level 3 – senior official level briefing. In addition to what is set out for level 2, a bi-lateral meeting(s) with the Gold Commander and other target stakeholders should be arranged. This may be added on to existing governance for the event, for example, Government Policing and Security Group meetings. The option of deploying a government liaison officer/Home Office liaison officer to NPoCC or to the lead force should be considered.
  • Level 4 – in addition to levels 2 and 3, a ministerial/senior official briefing paper and meeting with target stakeholders should be arranged, or be added on to existing governance, for example, Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR – which the NPCC Chair and/or NMC would attend) or Government Policing and Security Group meetings. This meeting would cover all policing and security matters.

The target stakeholders may include, but are not limited to, relevant government ministers or officials, the police and government partners, police and crime commissioners and/or other accountability bodies, and relevant police representative bodies.

Regional (tier 2)

Regional Information and Coordination Centre (RICC)

This response to mobilisation is based on nine regions. To facilitate mobilisation at this tier and support NPoCC (tier 3) and individual forces (tier 1), each region will host and run a Regional Information and Coordination Centre (RICC). RICCs are currently an evolving function. Each RICC has a mandate to communicate and coordinate across its region to identify and deploy mutual aid resources from forces within the region.

RICCs will have a strategic assistant chief constable (ACC) lead with delegated authority to:

  • establish the regional response levels required for mobilisation
  • coordinate the regional response to mobilisation requests

This will be achieved through consultation and negotiation with all the other force ACC counterparts in the region.

When not activated to mobilise resources, RICC performs the following functions.

  • Creating and maintaining a regional events calendar to help with resource capacity/capability assessment to feed into NPoCC.
  • A service level agreement for the region in response to NPoCC requests.
  • Liaising with, and accessing, other regional capabilities which can help plan and coordinate mobilisation activations/requests (for example, CT hubs, intelligence units).
  • Regional mobilisation plans, for example, identification of strategic holding areas for the region.
  • Identifying mutual aid liaison officers (MALOs) with the appropriate skill set and experience to:
    • deploy during the mobilisation phase
    • act as a key link between RICC, NPoCC, and host and donor forces on welfare matters
    • provide situational awareness reporting, to support strategic briefing processes.
  • Collating and quality assuring force mobilisation plans.
  • Capturing collaborative arrangements such as joint public order or firearms units and/or exploiting good cross-force working relationships.
  • The fast-time mobilisation of resources across force boundaries within the region.
  • Establishing conditions of service with the forces in their region and chief officers for deployed staff.
  • Debriefing following activation.
  • Developing and disseminating good practice.
  • Ensuring that information input on Mercury for the region is accurate (achieved by nominating a single point of contact with NPoCC).
  • Will work on behalf of the Regional Mobilisation Lead (RML) to ensure the availability of accredited commanders in the region as determined by the RML/POPS lead, for example, public order gold/silver/bronze commanders.

RICC may be activated to mobilise resources by a force(s) in its region. If RICC is activated in these circumstances and NPoCC is not activated, it will ascertain the requirements from the host force(s) and coordinate the supply of resources from across the region. RICC will still, however, liaise with NPoCC to ensure visibility of its activities and to enable NPoCC to maintain an accurate overview of national resourcing.

The RICC must have considered the following in their regional resourcing strategy before making a tier 3 request.

  • On duty resource.
  • Moving of shifts to accommodate ‘due on’ resources.
  • Review of already in use resources (ie, football serials – bring in earlier).
  • Cancellation of rest days – seeking volunteers.
  • Cancellation of rest days – requiring not requesting.

Clarity is often sought on this and therefore a brief summary of these considerations should be included within the tier 3 request so that NPoCC can provide tier 3 donors with this information from the outset.

It is acknowledged that on occasion geographically it will be more pragmatic to move to tier 3 before exhausting the above list. For example urgent spontaneous incidents or some local derby football matches.

In circumstances where NPoCC has been activated, RICC will provide an expeditious and coordinated response to the national demand for resources, on behalf of the region.

When activated, the RICC strategic lead will act as a regional mobilisation coordinator (RMC). The RMC will:

  • ensure liaison with commanders in the host force(s) and NPoCC
  • negotiate and coordinate the identification and supply of resources at a regional level
  • set the appropriate staffing levels within RICC to facilitate effective mobilisation when activated, for example, to facilitate planning, information, resources, logistics, finance, legal (PIRLFL)

Local (tier 1)

A force is responsible for responding to and managing incidents or events that are within its capacity and capability. As part of its planning, a force should assess its capacity and capability to mobilise resources.

  • What is the provision of specialist roles? Is training and/or accreditation up to date? Note: to support mobilisation these roles should be trained and accredited in accordance with national standards.
  • What cadre protocols exist or need to be developed, ie, how will staff that hold, or are trained in, specialist roles be alerted and deployed during a mobilisation? What cover arrangements exist? How will staff with multiple skills be deployed to ensure maximum operational effectiveness?
  • Are there procedures to ensure operational resilience during a protracted and/or complex mobilisation?
  • How will planning, information, resources, logistics, finance, legal (PIRLFL) be resourced if a force is dealing with a mobilisation, for example, could policies be developed to enable non-warranted staff to take on some of these roles during a mobilisation, thus enabling warranted staff to undertake other duties?

This information may form part of a dedicated mobilisation plan and it should be shared with RICC to help assess regional capacity and capability.

Staff in forces (for example, control room personnel, senior management) are likely to be the first to be aware of the possibility of an event/incident which will require resources which exceed local capacity and capability (for example, in response to a spontaneous event or incident). If an assessment reveals the need for additional resources and/or specialist support, force procedures should be followed to ensure appropriate command structures are put in place to:

  • assess the event
  • decide if the initial assessment is appropriate
  • take any immediate action that is necessary to minimise the potential impact of the event
  • ensure a swift, professional response

If mutual aid may be needed, the control room or senior management team should inform the chief officer team or duty gold so that they can assess the resource implications. If it is decided that additional resources are required from beyond the force capacity and/or capability, RICC should be notified. RICC will then liaise with NPoCC to find out whether the source and supply of resources is achievable from within the region or if there is a need to escalate to a tier 3 requirement and source nationally.

Forces who are managing an event that is being resourced at tier 1 are not required to enter the event on Mercury.

However, where it is anticipated that the event will attract tier 2 or tier 3 mutual aid, forces are encouraged to place the event on Mercury at the earliest opportunity.

Special arrangements (tier 1 and 2)

Some forces are located within a region where greater efficiency and effectiveness would be achieved by contacting neighbouring forces for mutual aid, prior to exhausting the complete tier 2 (regional) options.

This is due to the fact that neighbouring forces, despite being placed within other regions, are geographically closer or have the requisite capability/capacity that could not be accessed as expeditiously or effectively within the host region.

In these circumstances, with prior agreement of NPoCC, forces that can provide a rationale are permitted to contact neighbouring forces outside their region as if they were a tier 2 request.

In this case, NPoCC have to give prior agreement and immediately advise all RICC’s within the host and donor regions that such special arrangements are being applied and the rationale as to why this is the case.

All mutual aid requests that rely on special arrangements must be entered on to Mercury without delay, with the rationale being documented within the body of the request.

Spontaneous events

A spontaneous event is defined as:

An event that occurs without prior notice or warning that presents an adverse effect on the community in which it occurs and where no reasonable opportunity arose to prepare or activate plans that would deliver an effective response or provide adequate resources that would mitigate the effect.

National Mobilisation – National Emergency/Event

In situations considered to be a national emergency/event, such as the disorder in 2011, consideration will be made to invoking ‘Exigency of Duty’. Below is the PNB Circular 9/86 which defines an exigency.


Where alterations are made to an annual duty roster after its publication these changes must arise from the exigencies of duty (unless they are made at the officer’s own request or have otherwise been agreed with the joint branch board).

The term “exigencies of duty” should be interpreted as relating to situations where a pressing demand, need or requirement is perceived that is not reasonably avoidable and necessitates a change of roster.

In this context the word “pressing” relates to the expected situation at the time when the duty is to be performed rather than the time when the duty roster is changed, ie, the reasons for a change may be known many months in advance but still be pressing.

PNB Circular 9/86 definition of an exigency of duty

While the definition does not give a green light to disregard Regulations or Working Time Regulations, it is a guide to the steps to be taken to ensure mobilisation requirements are met.

For resourcing purposes the following will be considered before moving to the next tier.

  • On duty resource.
  • Moving of shifts to accommodate ‘due on’ resources.
  • Review of already in use resources.
  • Cancellation of training.
  • Moving to 12 hour shifts.
  • Use of ‘restricted duties’ officers to backfill deployable officers (restricted officers may need to include those restricted for discipline matters as well as those on physical restrictions).
  • Use of ‘ring-fenced’ officers (ring-fenced officers are not funded, but not usually abstracted from day-to-day role).
  • Use of funded officers (funded officers are those who are funded by a third party and may have contractual restrictions on their deployment).
  • Cancellation of rest days – seeking volunteers.
  • Cancellation of rest days – requiring not requesting.
  • Cancellation of annual leave.

At tier 3, forces will rightly expect that tier 1 and tier 2 will have exhausted all reasonable methods of resourcing prior to making a tier 3 request and may ask NPoCC for confirmation of the measures employed by the host RICC before agreeing to support.

Assessment/activation process

  • If there is sufficient capacity and capability in force to manage the spontaneous or pre-planned event then the force manages the event.
  • If there is not capacity and capability in force then RICC is activated to assist in locating and mobilising suitable forces from across the region. RICC is to liaise with NPoCC.
  • If RICC can meet capacity and capability requirements then the force manages and resolves the event with assistance from RICC.
  • If RICC cannot meet capacity and capability requirements then it becomes a Tier 3 mobilisation. NPoCC is activated and implements supply strategy to meet the mutual aid requirement to deliver the operation. NPoCC will coordinate with donor RICCs to assure supply level and will liaise with host force(s). 
  • The force manages and resolves the event with assistance from RICC and NPoCC. NPoCC will notify both of the assured supply.
Decision making model for managing events

Planning, preparing and responding


This is the secure IT web-based system that underpins the management of mutual aid. All forces, including the PSNI, Police Scotland, States of Jersey Police, Guernsey Police, Ministry of Defence Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and British Transport Police have access to Mercury. It is owned and managed by NPoCC. Mercury allows:

  • a force that requires mutual aid, that is, host force, to input event details and request resources – split by specialism, date and scale
  • a force that has been asked to provide the mutual aid, that is, donor force, to accept or reject the request and populate the required information/data. Where the request cannot be met, rationale as to why needs to be included, this could be due to competing demand already being resourced
  • logistics information to be arranged and communicated between the host and donor force

Mercury can be accessed by designated users in forces and RICCs.

Mercury must be used for all pre-planned events which require tier 2 and tier 3 Mutual aid.

Mercury is not to be used for tier 1 planning.

The key priority in a spontaneous event is to achieve a timely and effective mobilisation response to support an operation. The use of Mercury is not time critical, therefore, forces/RICCs should liaise with NPoCC to clarify whether the force/RICC or NPoCC is in the best position to coordinate the use of Mercury in response to the event, at the appropriate time.

The benefits of Mercury include allowing:

  • a force/RICC to request and respond to mutual aid in a simple and consistent way
  • the host force to request any required details (for example, date of birth) from the donor force
  • the host force to arrange and communicate accommodation and transport details
  • RICCs to have a clear oversight of mutual aid activity within their region

In addition, Mercury provides:

  • simple, printable reports
  • finance information
  • an audit of the mutual aid. a communication tool between NPoCC, host and donor forces involved in an event (for example, news items, publication of joining instructions and operation orders)
  • Query tool to identify the locality of assets nationally based on the agreed role profiles


Each force should develop its own mobilisation plan. These plans should differentiate between actions when the Force is deploying resources or receiving resources. These may be collated or developed collectively by RICCs to develop an overarching regional mobilisation plan. NPoCC should be sent a copy of each Regional Mobilisation Plan for central collation. Mobilisation plans should be reviewed, refreshed and tested regularly and ideally on an annual basis.

It is essential that staff involved in developing and maintaining a mobilisation plan have the knowledge, training, time, resources and support to ensure that it is done thoroughly.

The mobilisation plan should include (not exhaustive):

  • a named chief officer with responsibility for mobilisation (note: this could be the RICC strategic lead for an overarching regional plan)
  • a named individual with responsibility for reviewing and updating the plan
  • capacity and capability assessments as per SPR requirements
  • mobilisation assessment/activation processes
  • arrangements for hosting mutual aid (hosting plan)
  • arrangements for deploying mutual aid (donor plan)
  • the process for recording deployment details (note: this should be achieved through Mercury)
  • a communications plan that includes provision of radio, telephone and IT systems, see ACPO (2010) Standard Operating Procedure Guide on Police to Police and Inter-Agency Airwave Interoperability
  • a transport plan for moving staff, delivering vehicles and fuel, providing secure parking and maintaining vehicles 24/7 (hosting plan), an accommodation plan, including the provision of adequate toilet facilities (hosting plan), a catering plan that provides for additional resources 24/7, animal management arrangements that include accommodation, feeding and veterinary care 24/7 (hosting plan)
  • an equipment plan, for example, reserve supplies of essential equipment (hosting plan)
  • a briefing plan that identifies facilities for briefing and debriefing (hosting plan)
  • identification of strategic holding areas (SHAs) and rendezvous points (RVPs) (hosting plan)
  • provision of welfare centres, including contact numbers (hosting plan)
  • detailed maps of the force area that can be easily distributed to donor force staff on arrival (hosting plan)
  • training and awareness arrangements
  • links to business continuity plans (hosting plan)
  • exercising arrangements
  • the command and control structure and identify sufficient trained and available staff to carry out the command support roles 24/7 (hosting plan)
  • post-mobilisation considerations
  • return-to-force strategy

For some operations (for example, pre-planned tier 3 events), there may be a requirement to develop a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the host force and donor forces. This may include:

  • the legal authority to mobilise resources
  • a statement of intent including, for example:
    • details of the dates and times of the tasking and the nature of the operation being supported
    • resources to be requested/provided (personnel and equipment)
    • operating procedures
    • practical arrangements for transport and accommodation of personnel and equipment
    • health and safety issues (including risk assessments for the operation)
    • training
  • equipment financial arrangements (including details of expenses and what can be claimed), pensions, insurance, awards, torts and discipline applicable to officers from donor forces.

In addition to a MoU, the host force should consider developing an accompanying Practical Deployment Document (PDD) which contains tactical advice to support the mobilisation and mutual aid processes. NPoCC can provide advice on the development of MoUs and PDDs.

The number of staff required may vary throughout the response to an operation or incident. This will affect issues such as the provision of accommodation and refreshments.

The National Mobilisation Co-ordinator has made a policy decision that officers deployed on mutual aid mobilisations will be of substantive rank and that acting and temporary ranks will not be utilised on mutual aid unless in extremis when appropriate authority will be given by the National Mobilisation Coordinator. This direction enables a pragmatic approach to be taken in times of national need while avoiding the unnecessary transfer of risk to Gold Commanders/chief constables in host forces receiving mutual aid.

Forces and RICCs should, therefore, consider scalability in their mobilisation plan and ensure they are capable of receiving a wide range of size and scale of mutual aid resource.

Suitable locations for SHAs or RVPs should reflect this scalability.


Preparation provides the link between planning and responding to mobilisation. Preparation includes:

  • raised training and awareness of mobilisation planning and processes
  • ensuring relevant staff have access to mobilisation plans
  • exercising.

Forces and regions should ensure that they identify, train and exercise sufficient numbers of staff in the roles they will be expected to perform during a mobilisation. This includes staff in support roles as well as frontline officers, for example, muster and debriefing teams, welfare teams.

Staff should also be fully aware of mobilisation processes and procedures and their responsibilities should a mobilisation occur, especially if they fulfil a function which is likely to be redeployed. Key staff in force/regions (for example, force control room, critical incident managers) should have access to mobilisation plans.

An out-of-hours process must be in place and communicated to staff to support effective mobilisation should it be required.

An effective exercise and testing programme should be developed and implemented to ensure that both staff competency and mobilisation processes are fit for purpose. Forces and regions are encouraged to engage with NPoCC, which will support exercise development and ensure learning is shared across the police service, partners and stakeholders.

Forces need to ensure that all role profile data is up to date on Mercury as this will enable accurate planning for any mobilisation.


An effective response to mobilisation is built on planning and preparing. Given the potential complexities and variation in scale associated with different types of events, forces/regions should be flexible with regard to delivering the response.

Commanders will require access to appointed support officers in the areas of planning, information, resources, logistics, finance, legal (PIRLFL) during a mobilisation.

This support:

  • enables command support staff within each element of PIRLFL to advise or communicate relevant issues to commanders
  • assists command decision making
  • avoids information overload for commanders

Command support staff do not make command decisions, but they do hold the level of authority to facilitate and direct PIRLFL support. The number of staff involved in each component will depend on the scale of the event. Forces/regions must ensure that they have sufficient numbers of staff identified to carry out these roles, and factor in resilience during a potentially protracted mobilisation.

The following provides further information on those elements which are unique to mobilisation. Note: Mercury helps support delivery of these elements.

PIRLFL – Planning

A force/region’s generic contingency plans or specific plans to respond to identified risks should be used in conjunction with mobilisation plans.

PIRLFL – Information

Information requirements for planning may include supplying information to organisations and agencies outside the host force(s) area, and responding to freedom of information requests and managing disclosure. A bespoke intelligence cell or unit may be activated. This will help with the management of information and intelligence during a mobilisation.

PIRLFL – Finance

Forces/regions should ensure that accurate and auditable records of expenditure are kept. Nominated staff should be given responsibility for setting up procedures to capture all costs reasonably incurred in responding to mobilisation. Mercury can be used for this purpose. The financial accounting arrangements to be used should be clarified when the lead coordinating agency responsibility passes from the police to another lead agency.

Post-mobilisation considerations

A mobilisation is considered to have ended when:

  • the incident is resolved, or
  • the operation ends, and/or
  • the lead agency responsibility is handed to a relevant partner, for example, the local authority

Forces should have in place:

  • mechanisms to support the recovery phase of an operation
  • arrangements for the handover of lead agency responsibility
  • a return-to-force strategy

A mobilisation offers participating forces and regions opportunities to identify and share lessons learnt. When a tier 3 mobilisation has occurred, host and donor forces should ensure NPoCC and other key partners are engaged in post-event debriefing to ensure identified good practice is implemented for future mobilisation, this maybe in the form of a structured debrief which NPoCC will assist with coordination and facilitation.

Return-to-force strategy

This should consider the following. This is not an exhaustive list.

Host and donor force

  • That welfare debriefs and, where appropriate, health checks are conducted. There is also a requirement that staff have been refreshed and rested prior to return to the assisting force(s).
  • Debriefing staff to identify opportunities for organisational and operational learning – for example, an assessment of whether the level of police resources was appropriate, effective and efficient. Debriefing may also help support any intelligence and evidence gathering arising from the incident.
  • An equipment check to account for any loss/damage sustained during deployment and, if applicable, to undertake any repairs, maintenance, servicing or replacements required to return to a state of readiness.
  • Resolution of any misconduct or complaint issues.

Host force

  • An outgoing headcount to ensure that all staff are accounted for.
  • Staff should be made aware of any pre-arranged feeding and/or resting points that can be used during their return journey.
  • Any post-incident investigation needs, for example, the collation of any outstanding evidence (such as statements of evidence) and staff contact details.

Donor force

  • Return-to-work arrangements for staff who have been deployed to a mobilisation – for example, rest days, re-acclimatisation, briefings.
Was this page useful?

Do not provide personal information such as your name or email address in the feedback form. Read our privacy policy for more information on how we use this data

What is the reason for your answer?
I couldn't find what I was looking for
The information wasn't relevant to me
The information is too complicated