In 2014, the London Resilience Partnership developed the second Mass Evacuation Framework for the city of London. The purpose of this Framework is to offer guidance to responders managing a mass evacuation of displaced persons and, where appropriate, other living creatures.

The Framework has been developed by the Multi-Agency London Resilience Partnership Mass Evacuation Group. This group consists for example of the City of London Police, London Fire Brigade Emergency Planning, Environment Agency, Ministry of Defence (London), or Network Rail.

Based on: London Resilience Partnership (2014): Mass Evacuation Framework.

In the city a range of risks could result in a scenario requiring mass evacuation. The current reasonable worst case planning assumption for London is based on a major fluvial flooding incident.

In addition to providing guidance, the framework is intended to support decision-making and expectation management across all multi-agency partners and stakeholders. The content facilitates a flexible, scalable and coordinated approach to managing an evacuation.

The framework is not intended to be prescriptive, as every incident is different; rather, its aim is to capture the core principles for the management of a mass evacuation enabling key organisations to respond consistently and with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

In more detail, the objectives of this Framework are:

  • Support the Strategic Coordinating Group to respond effectively to an event that requires the evacuation of part of London;
  • Provide responding organisations with the necessary strategy to allow them to effectively implement their roles and responsibilities in support of an evacuation; and
  • Provide the process by which appropriate information is supplied to all responding agencies, the public and businesses, at the start of and throughout the evacuation process.

An incident which causes a mass evacuation may be a ‘sudden impact’ or a ‘rising tide’ type of incident. A ‘sudden impact’ incident will require immediate evacuation of a population to protect life, which may have to be initiated before the full command and control structure is in place. In a ‘rising tide’ incident, agencies will have some warning of a potential incident, enabling command and control structures to be put in place to coordinate the response to the incident and any associated evacuation. Flooding events typically fall under the latter of this incidents.

Evacuation process

The evacuation process is broken down into five principal phases as follows:

Initiate Evacuation
  • Responding Agencies initiate operating procedures
  • Transport availability identified
  • Evacuation assembly point identified
  • Recovery Cell setup
  • Alert neighbouring areas
Alert Population
  • Initiate Warning and Informing methods
 Move Population
  • - Affected Local Authorities (LA) move evacuees requiring help to evacuation assembly point (with assistance from Police)
  • - LAs to liaise with transport operators and move evacuees to locations where shelter can be provided
Shelter / Assistance
  • LAs receive evacuees and provide 48hr shelter where needed.
Return / Recovery.
  • - Handover to Recovery Group
  • - Inform Population/ Residents
  • - Assess Situation - Reoccupation (if possible)
  • - LAs consider longer term shelter options

Training and Exercising

Each organisation is responsible for ensuring that its staff are fully trained in its own emergency response procedures, and in its particular role in support of the operation of the London Mass Evacuation Framework and associated plans and protocols. A standardised approach to training and exercising is described in the framework. It is also stated that agencies have to maintain records of their training programmes as evidence.

Key lessons learnt

Once an evacuation plan has been set, it must be made available to the people who might need to use so they can be trained and the effectiveness of the plan validated. This is usually through an exercise which alows responders to simulate an emergency and their response. 

Also a regularly review and update of the plan has to be undertaken. These updates should take into account learnings from exercises, incidents and changes in policy. It has to be ensured that the latest best practise is incorporated.

Relevant case studies and examples
Measure category