MANAGING INCIDENTS: - ESCALATION AND VISIBILITY
The recently revised Business Continuity Management processes include escalation procedures for visible, on-Campus incidents affecting ICT and/or Estates/Facilities namely those involving:
- An untoward incident (e.g. flood, fire, power outage, explosion, security incident or prolonged loss of utilities)
- Major disruption to ICT core programs or networks
- Disruption to Buildings
There are, however, a wide range of other incidents that should also be escalated to senior management; typically those that have a serious effect on individual students or staff or those that have the potential to affect the College’s operations and/or reputation. These also need to be expeditiously escalated to an appropriate level.
Recent experience suggests that the types of incident that should be escalated, who should initiate such escalation, to whom and using what method(s) is not as widely understood as might be desirable. The remainder of this paper addresses these issues.
It is almost impossible to create a comprehensive list of incidents that have, could or just might affect the College’s operation and/or reputation, and line managers will always need to exercise their professional judgement as to what should be escalated and how this is best achieved.
Expeditious escalation to an appropriate level is welcomed by the senior management of the College. For the individual who has identified an issue it can quickly relieve the burden of responsibility, help to provide an appropriate response and protect the interests of both the College and the individuals involved.
- When considering whether and how an incident should be escalated the general principles should be that:
o It has a serious effect on individual staff or students
o Normal operations have been or could be significantly disrupted
o The reputation of the College or individuals is threatened
o The issue is in, or has the potential to be of interest to, the media·
- Escalation should be:
o Consider the security and privacy of those involved
TYPES OF INCIDENT REQUIRING ESCALATION
As a general rule incidents external to the College which may affect the College’s ability to operate normally will be identified and managed by Communications Division, Human Resources, Security, Occupational Health or the Director of Risk Management. This may include but is not limited to:
- Pandemic or epidemic disease
- Terrorist, protest or industrial action
- London wide disruption (e.g. transport strike, riots)
However as demonstrated by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud that disrupted the start of the 2010 summer term, there may be faraway and unforeseen events which can unexpectedly disrupt normal College activity.
Incidents involving a member of College staff or a student may of course originate in any College Department.
Where specific College policies or procedures exist they should normally be followed, although consideration should be given to an earlier “heads up” escalation (usually via a Head of Department (or available deputy)) in advance the existing protocols, particularly if there is the potential for early media engagement. Examples might be:
- Allegations of Fraud/dishonesty
- Misappropriation of College property or services
- Unethical behaviour
- Failure to follow our own policies and procedures
- Failure to uphold academic freedom
- Research misconduct
- Data Loss
There are, however, other issues or events which should appropriately be brought to the attention of senior management for appropriate intervention this may include but is not limited to:-
- Unexpected or unexplained death
- Actual or alleged sexual assault
- Child abuse or pornography
- Events with potential regulatory or legal ramifications
- Student extremism
- Pending legal action against the College or an individual
- Media interest due to an untoward event affecting one or more students, staff, visitors, College property or assets
ESCALATION TO WHOM
The College’s senior management would prefer that colleagues alert them to potential issues that come to nothing rather than not be alerted to a potentially serious issue which then goes unmanaged until too late. It recognises that making decisions about what to make visible and escalate is demanding, leads to extra work and may be stressful but the prevailing attitude we wish to develop is one of confidence in sharing, and that by escalating, the messenger will be thanked and not penalised.
Escalation should normally be via a Head of Department (or available deputy) to the core group of:
- College Secretary
- Director of Communications and Public Affairs
- If the issue involves students then the Vice Provost (Education) should also be informed.
METHODS FOR ESCALATION
The means of escalation needs to be appropriate to the potential sensitivity of the issue and the privacy of those involved should always be protected from wider dissemination than necessary. As a general rule, information about staff and students should not be communicated to persons outside the College. Further guidance is available at Guide 8 and 9 of http://www.imperial.ac.uk/admin-services/legal-services-office/data-protection/further-guidance/
Almost anyone may come across an untoward incident and should normally contact the appropriate helpdesk, Security or follow normal College procedures but the ultimate result should be an Email route to the core group.
By virtue of their role some members of the College will be more experienced in what should be escalated and the appropriate means of doing so. If available, their advice may be helpful. These include but are not limited to:
- Director of Student Support
- Vice Provost (Education)
- ICU Sabbaticals
- Communications Division
- Help Desks
- Occupational Health
- College Secretariat
Author: Director of Risk Management
Version: 1.1 Uploaded: 20/10/15
Next revision date: 19/10/16
BUSINESS CONTINUITY ESCALATION PROCEDURE (text version of diagram)
FM/Security Escalation route
1: FM/Security Incident Arises
2: FM/Security Escalation Process See FM DR SOP
3: EF Incident Review Process
4: Decide whether to Escalate or continue to monitor
ICT Escalation route
5: ICT Incident Arises
6: ICT Escalation Process See ICT DR SOP
7: ICT Incident Review Process
8: Decide whether to Escalate or continue to monitor
Action following decision to Escalate:
- Inform SERG
- Inform Duty Communications (a)
- Extended CMG required (b)
(a) The expectation is that Duty Communications will be informed early in any event that may result in social media traffic. They may be called without further escalation being necessary
(b) Should the extended CMG be required it is likely to be appropriate that SERG be informed.