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The UK’s National Risk Assessment (NRA)

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Practice provided by

Gavin Lofthouse
[email protected]
004420 7276 5060

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Type of organisation: Civil Contingencies Secretariat

Country: United Kingdom

Level of government: Central government

Type of practice: Process

Type of hazard or threat:

Risk management theme: Risk assessment

The UK National Risk Assessment (NRA) is a yearly process aimed at identifying characterizing and comparing all the major hazards and threats of national significance that may cause significant impacts in the UK on a five-year horizon. Led by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat of the Cabinet Office, it involves a large multi-agency process that allows ranking risks based on the likelihood –or plausibility- and impact of the “reasonable worst-case scenario”. According to the Civil Contingencies Act, the NRA constitutes the fundamental basis for capabilities-based planning to support emergency preparedness and response from national to local level. Endorsed by the Cabinet Office, the NRA allows risk ownership by assigning the responsibility to manage each identified risk to one government department. While remaining in part confidential, a public version of the NRA is made publicly available and serves as fundamental reference document for risk information and awareness across the country. The assessed risks cover 3 broad categories: natural events, major accidents and malicious attacks. In addition to the National Risk Assessment, local resilience forums (LRF) are responsible for local risk assessments. The central government provides guidelines on risk assessment that are updated annually for LRFs to conduct their own Community Risk Assessments (CRAs).

Why the good practice was developed

The UK’s risk landscape is continually evolving and this requires constant monitoring of the most significant emergencies that the country and its citizens could face over the next 5 years. To cope with changing risks and interdependent threats within the society, the central government produces collaborative efforts to produces the NRA through extensive collaboration efforts. With the increasing importance to raise risk awareness of the public society’s risk awareness, the national government also acknowledged the need for a public risk assessment, which led to the publication of the National Risk Register in 2008. This represented the first step in providing advice on how people and businesses can better prepare for civil emergencies.


  • Building a government-wide shared view on the range of emergencies that might have a major impact on all or significant parts of the UK, and thus building risk ownership

  • Providing a list of the common consequences that cover the maximum scale, duration and impact, to that could to be expected to occur a result of emergencies, and accordingly inform the National Resilience Planning Assumptions (NRPAs)

  • Strengthening risk awareness of the citizens, business and local communities by sharing the results of the NRA in the National Risk Register.



Service quality


User satisfaction

Results not available yet


  • The NRA process has been conducting regularly since it was initiated. It proved very useful to plan for capabilities-based emergency preparedness and response at every level of government

  • It  enabled the prioritisation of preventive measures, which has been particularly useful in a budget-constraint environment

  • The NRA contributed to strengthening the development of risk assessment at the local level

  • 80 types of hazard/threats event have been identified and analysed through the NRAs over the last years

Lessons Learned

  • A yearly national risk assessment is essential to adapt to a changing risk landscape that many countries face nowadays

  • A public NRA is important to foster risk awareness among the population

  • The NRA is a powerful tool to guide policymakers in the prioritisation of public policies aimed at improving risk management

  • Important to take into account also everyday occurrences, the risks of emergencies occurring overseas and longer term or broader global risks