The Government Chief Scientific Adviser provides advice to Ministers on scientific aspects of contingency planning
The Government Chief Scientific Adviser provides advice to Ministers on scientific aspects of contingency planning. Contingency planning includes monitoring and assessing threats/hazards (e.g. terrorism, pandemic disease), planning to mitigate the risk, carrying out research and evaluation to ensure that the plans are suitably robust, and exercising and training to ensure implementation of the plans.
The work of the GCSA and GO-Science is to ensure that all these stages are underpinned across Government by strong science - whether research or advice.
On counter terrorism, GO-Science is working with departments to ensure Government has the science & technology to assist in these activities.
The role of science advice in planning and responding to a major UK emergency
GO-Science is currently working with other Government departments on a number of disaster planning issues. GO-Science provided the secretariat for the Scientific Advisory Group in Emergencies (SAGE) for the Volcanic Ash emergency in 2010, and the Fukushima Nuclear incident in 2011. Another area of work is the threat posed by avian flu and human pandemic flu. SAGE minutes from both the Fukushima and Volcanic ash emergencies are available and more information about SAGE and the range of emergencies that the UK could potentially face can be found here.
The Use of Science Advice in Humanitarian Emergencies and Disasters (SHED report June 2012)
In June 2011, Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, asked Sir John Beddington to improve the Government's use of science in both predicting and preparing for disasters, drawing on the Chief Scientific Advisors' network across Government. In addressing this request, Sir John commissioned two pieces of work. The first piece of work is called "The Use of Science in Humanitarian Emergencies and Disasters" and is primarily focused on government, and changes to the way government plans and prepares for international humanitarian emergencies. There are three main recommendations which can be implemented relatively quickly to make a real difference to improve the way government currently uses scientific advice. More information can be found here.
Blackett review of high impact low probability risks
The Government Chief Scientific Advisor (GCSA), Sir John Beddington, has established a process for government to engage with academia and industry to answer specific scientific and/or technical questions primarily in the security domain. These Blackett Reviews provide fresh, multi-disciplinary thinking in a specific area. In each review, a small panel of 10-12 experts is tasked with answering a well defined question or set of questions of relevance to a challenging technical problem.
The GCSA convened a Blackett review group to address the question “How can we ensure that we minimise strategic surprises from high impact low probability risks”. The panel considered how Government could best identify, assess, communicate and quantify the inherent uncertainty in these types of risk. The Review has approached the issue with fresh thinking, considering the latest approaches to the risk management cycle. The recommendations build on existing practice, with an emphasis on refreshed thinking in a number of areas. The most notable over-arching factor in these recommendations is the repeated need for the inclusion of external experts and readiness to consider unlikely risks. Additionally, the report makes clear that behavioural matters and the role of social science in risk management needs to be enhanced.
A copy of the report can be found opposite under related links.