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Scotland's Exotic Animal Disease Contingency Framework Plan

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Chapter 4
4 Working with Others

Operational Partners

4.1 Animal Health agency

Role

Animal Health agency is an Executive Agency of Defra which works throughout GB on behalf of Defra, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government, and for the Food Standards Agency. See Defra's Contingency Plan for more details at:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/pdf/frameworkresponseplanv2.pdf

Responsibilities

It is responsible for managing outbreaks of notifiable animal diseases, protecting the welfare of farmed animals and safeguarding public health from animal borne disease. The agency is responsible for implementing animal health and welfare policies primarily on farms, at livestock markets and during transport on behalf of the Scottish Government.

4.2 Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA)

Role

The Scottish Environment Agency is the lead public organisation for:

  • Protecting and improving the environment in Scotland. During animal disease outbreaks the Agency will work with, and support partners

- Including Defra, Animal Health agency, local authorities and landowners - to minimise the environmental impact of any outbreak.

Responsibilities

The Agency will:

  • Provide expert advice to Scottish Government, in particular on waste.
  • Management options - The advice will focus on the disposal sites the Agency regulates.
  • Determine applications and registrations for waste disposal and recovery activities (including carcasses, manures and wash waters) where required and as appropriate.
  • Advise on pollution prevention issues such as where to site the cleansing and disinfection facilities and their operation.
  • Monitor the impact of the outbreak on the environment.

During outbreaks the Agency will, where appropriate, provide Liaison Officers at strategic/tactical ( DSG/ DSU) and operational (Local Disease Control Centres) command levels. The Agency will also, where necessary, attend Emergency Co-ordinating Committee and Strategic Co-ordinating Group meetings.

The Agency's role does not currently include a significant lead involvement in air quality issues or health impacts on the wider population. Such matters are currently dealt with in partnership with local and health authorities.

4.3 Health Protection Scotland ( HPS)

Role

The major role of the HPS is to provide better protection against infectious disease, (including animal diseases communicable to man (zoonoses)), and other dangers to health. One of the agency's core functions is to identify and respond to health hazards and emergencies.

Responsibilities

During an outbreak of exotic animal disease, where there is a considered to be a potential impact upon human health (e.g. avian influenza) the HPS will:

  • Provide representation at the NDCC and LDCC and attend their birdtable meetings.
  • Field health-related enquiries from public and local health service staff.
  • Ensure continuity of health care provision in restricted infected areas.
  • Contribute to briefing requests.
  • Assess the impact of disease control measures on public health.
  • Ensure Directors of public health in the Primary Care Trusts are briefed on disease control measures and any related public health issues.
  • Assist in the analysis of human blood samples.
  • Provide representation on Civil Contingencies Committee meetings, if necessary.
  • Contribute to communications and briefing requests.
  • Communicate policy changes to rest of HPS and direct the deployment of HPS' specialist functions.
  • Provide laboratory support, epidemiological advice and access to modelling capability.

4.4 Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA)

Role

To provide a uniformed presence to assist with animal welfare functions as directed by the Divisional Veterinary Manager ( DVM).

Responsibilities

  • Assistance with monitoring compliance with movement licences including accompanying vehicles on request.
  • Provide independent welfare audit on request by the Animal Health agency or Scottish Government.

4.5 Police

Individual police forces will fulfil a number of specific roles in relation to an animal disease outbreak, in addition to their wider role in relation to maintaining order and protecting the public. Their involvement will be dependent upon the severity and nature of other requirements being placed upon them. Very often the local police commander is the chair of the Strategic Coordination Group ( SCG). The DSU will put in place Liaison arrangements with ACPOS to help co-ordinate national issues.

During an outbreak of exotic animal disease individual police forces will:

  • Work closely with local authorities to enforce movement controls and the policing of various control zones.
  • Provide assistance to Animal Health agency through the provision of specialist knowledge in the area of management and co-ordination of major incidents.
  • Where required police any Zones with restrictions and enforce movement controls, working with local authorities.
  • Provide general co-ordination of emergencies support, particularly in pursuing legal entry to premises.
  • Work in partnership with local authorities and Animal Health to consider local intelligence.
  • Manage any disturbances at the disposal sites/preventing Breaches of the Peace.
  • Stopping and check vehicles transporting animals.

4.6 Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA)

During an outbreak of exotic animal disease the COSLA will:

  • Member of DSG.
  • Provide advice to local authorities on both regulatory and enforcement matters.
  • Assist in enforcing animal health and welfare legislation.
  • Confirm Scottish Government emergency contact points.
  • Ensure that key COSLA staff are alerted and kept up to date on the current situation.
  • Alert pre-arranged "ready reference" local authority contact group for use as immediate technical advisory point.

4.7 Local Authorities

Role

Local Authorities are major operational partners in the response to an outbreak of animal disease. They play a key role in enforcement and the implementation of disease control strategies and are fundamental to rapid and efficient access to local information and resources. They also fulfil a significant role in providing advice and education at a local level.

Responsibilities

During an outbreak of exotic animal disease individual Local Authorities will:

  • Inform DSG via COSLA of enforcement issues.
  • Assist Animal Health agency/ Scottish Government with the provision of resources such as staff, vehicles, equipment and buildings, where necessary. The level of assistance will depend on local circumstances and other pressures which may arise.
  • Erect road signs for publicising the Protection and Surveillance Zones around a premises where disease has been confirmed. Signs are required on roads at the boundaries of the Protection Zone ( PZ) and Surveillance Zone ( SZ).

Key local authority responders are:

A) Emergency Planning Officers ( EPOs)

EPOs are responsible for Local Authority emergency management co-ordination (in liaison with SCG), and who are responsible for:

  • Provision of contingency resources.
  • Identifying resources from all other parts of Local Authority.

B) Local Authority Animal Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers ( TSOs)

Who are responsible for:

  • The enforcement of most Animal Health legislation, including movement restrictions/licensing, enforcement within Surveillance Zones.
  • Liaising with EPOs for implementation of contingency plans, assistance with establishing disease outbreak "incident rooms".
  • Closing and reopening rights of way.
  • Responding to enquiries from farmers/industry/general public.
  • Monitoring livestock welfare esp. on transport and at markets.
  • Providing assistance with control of cleansing and disinfection of infected premises.
  • Maintaining effective liaison with other local Operational Partners.
  • Providing an appropriate representative to attend the Local Disease Control Centre.
  • Giving advice on enforcement.
  • Proactively disseminating advice and education to local communities through established communication channels.

C) Environmental Health Officers,

who are responsible for providing advice on public health implications of the disease control operations (e.g. disposal operations)

4.8 Local Stakeholders

Established by the ROD. Meetings will be held with local stakeholders and agencies as required, but should be convened quickly to tackle initial concerns.

Role

To ensure that developments in local operations are communicated to all relevant parties.

To allow input from all relevant parties to inform local decisions.

Membership

To be determined locally in consultation with the ROD and the DVM, but where appropriate will include:

  • Police
  • NHS Board
  • NFU Scotland
  • Road Haulage
  • Ramblers Association
  • Disposal Industry
  • SAC Disease Surveillance Centre
  • SAC Farm and Rural Business Development Offices
  • Local Authority
  • Local Representatives of the affect livestock sector or sectors.

Other Scottish Government Directorates and Agencies

4.9 Scottish Resilience

4.10 The role of Scottish Resilience is to co-ordinate the corporate response of the Scottish Government to any major emergency. This is a dual role which requires increasing levels of preparedness and management of the government response and an understanding of the interface between the activity of government and the role of local emergency responders and stakeholders in managing the consequences of any significant event. Scottish Resilience will support the development of particular contingency plans and supports the concept of an integrated approach to emergency response. In the event of wider consequences arising such as impact on tourism, community issues, and economic impact, Scottish Resilience would co-ordinate by bringing all the relevant policy experts together to consider the corporate response of government. This could be at Ministerial level as well as official level similar to the activity of COBR but for the devolved aspects. If the outbreak was sufficiently serious, CSC- SGoRR would be convened in order to set the strategic aim and key objectives for the response activity of all Scottish Government Directorates.

4.11 There is an important distinction to be made between fighting disease and managing the wider consequences. AHW policy division ( AHWD) of the Rural Directorate in the Scottish Government very much leads on the former, but when wider consequences arise CCU would co-ordinate the response across SG to ensure that the detailed activity of AHWD and other affected divisions/directorates are joined up and take all relevant aspects into account. It is worth noting that AHWD is one of the few areas within Scottish Government where decisions taken by officials directly affect the management and control of local responders. Disease control and wider consequence management functions require to be closely integrated between AHWD and Scottish Resilience.

4.12 Scottish Resilience in the event of a disease outbreak would work closely with the Rural Directorate and would step in to manage the wider consequences should they be likely to occur.

4.13 Public Health and Wellbeing Directorate/ CMO Scotland

The Directorate's role is to provide clear and unambiguous advice on the human health implications of an animal disease outbreak. During an outbreak of exotic animal disease the Directorate will provide strategic guidance and advice on prophylaxis and treatment where necessary.

4.14 Food Standards Agency - Scotland ( FSA)

The Food Standards Agency Scotland is responsible for providing advice to the public concerning implications for the food chain arising from an outbreak of exotic animal disease. The agency will produce guidance on food safety based upon the very latest scientific information and is responsible for assessing the level of risk to the consumer.

4.15 Transport Directorate

The Directorate's responsibility it to liaise with DfT on matters relating to Transport in Scotland.

Other UK Administrations, Departments and Agencies

4.16 Defra

Defra would lead on the animal disease control response in England and liaise with appropriate international organisations such as the EC and OIE.

4.17 Welsh Assembly Government

In Wales the Defra Framework contingency plan will be followed complemented by a separate plan for Wales published by the Welsh Assembly Government, which includes the following provisions:

The Welsh Contingency Plan may be viewed online.

http://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/exoticdisease/wagframeworkresponse/?lang=en.

4.18 Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland ( DARDNI)

Northern Ireland is considered to be a separated epidemiological unit since it does not share a common land boundary with Great Britain. It has a separate veterinary service from the rest of GB.

The Northern Ireland Contingency Plan when published may be viewed at:

http://www.dardni.gov.uk

4.19 Department for Transport DfT

During an outbreak of exotic animal disease DfT aims to provide support to the UK Governments, its associated agencies and stakeholders by responding to demands for information on transport related issues, providing practical advice and guidance and facilitating contact with the transport industry where necessary.

4.20 Meat Hygiene Service ( MHS)

The MHS is an executive agency of the Food Standards Agency and is responsible for the protection of public and animal health through the proportionate enforcement of legislation in approved fresh meat premises. It is responsible for the delivery of official legislative controls relating to standards of hygiene in slaughterhouses and cutting plants. MHS is a member of DSG. Its involvement would be most crucial at the start of an outbreak.

4.21 UKREP United Kingdom Permanent Representation to the European Union (part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

UKREP'S role is to monitor and analyse developments in the European Union ( EU), particularly in the Commission and amongst member states; and to negotiate with the Commission and other member states on any specific issues (in particular, but not exclusively in relation to Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health ( SCoFCAH) decisions and outcomes).

4.22 Military Liaison/ Involvement of the Armed Forces

As a result of improved structures, processes and preparedness, there are no plans to use armed forces on the scale that they were deployed during the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, although the strategic logistical and coordination expertise of the military may be utilised if appropriate. The armed forces would be deployed within the NDCC or the Disease Strategy Group at a tactical level or Military Liaison Officers will be posted to the LDCCs to take on a local strategic coordination function.

Animal Health Agency has plans to bring in civil contractors quickly and effectively under contingency contracts to recruit additional staff and volunteers from other government departments, and externally. These arrangements reduce the need for support from the Armed Forces. Staff will receive ongoing training in planning a massive logistics operation, leadership, and effective communications. These skills are maintained through contingency planning and exercises.

Military Joint Regional Liaison Officers attend SGoRR (O) (see figure 2) and are an important link when considering the involvement of the Armed Forces under Military Assistance to Civilian Authority ( MACA) arrangements. A Military Liaison Officer can be invited to join the LDCC.

International

4.23 World Organisation for Animal Health ( OIE)

The need to fight animal diseases at global level led to the creation of the Office International des Epizooties through the international Agreement signed on January 25th 1924. In May 2003 the Office became the World Organisation for Animal Health but kept its historical acronym OIE.

The OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.

It is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organisation ( WTO) and as of January 2008, had a total of 172 Member Countries and Territories. The OIE maintains permanent relations with 36 other international and regional organisations and has Regional and sub-regional Offices on every continent.

OIE on behalf of its Member Countries produces the Terrestrial Animal Heath Code which is formally adopted at the annual general assembly of all Delegates of OIE Members. The aim of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code is to assure the sanitary safety of international trade in terrestrial animals and their products. This is achieved through the detailing of health measures to be used by the veterinary authorities of importing and exporting countries to avoid the transfer of agents pathogenic for animals or humans, while avoiding unjustified sanitary barriers. The Code sets out, amongst other things, the requirements for Country freedom from particular animal diseases.

The delegate member of the OIE for the UK is the UKCVO.

4.24 EU

The requirements to control the exotic animal diseases covered by this framework are enshrined in EU legislation either by EU Directive or EU Regulation. In many respects EU law is more flexible than domestic legislation, recognising that animal disease processes are dynamic and that a flexible approach is required in their control. This flexibility is achieved through the Commission and the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health ( SCoFCAH). With respect to outbreaks of exotic animal diseases in Member States, the Commission may take immediate safeguard measures, for example, preventing the placing on the internal market (intra community trade). The Commission may bring forward disease control proposals to be considered by SCoFCAH. Ultimately Commission safeguard measures or proposals must be approved by qualified majority by SCoFCAH.

The UK is represented on SCoFCAH by the UKCVO or their representative, who also represents the UK at EUCVO meetings. Scottish interests with respect to animal health are taken forward by the UKCVO recognising that an integrated GB or UK approach is required to deal with animal health issues. However the Scottish Government with the agreement of the UKCVO may make representations at SCoFCAH or to Commission officials directly.

4.25 Third Countries

Third countries are those countries that are not Member States of the EU or the European Free Trade Area ( EFTA). Following an outbreak of exotic animal disease third countries may ban or restrict the import of animals or their products. It is hoped that third countries will abide by the World Organisation for Animal Health ( OIE) Code. But often bilateral negotiations are required to restore trade - the responsibility for these negotiations rests with Defra and the UKCVO.