Catalogue description Home Office and Ministry of Home Security: Civil Defence Regions, Headquarters and Regional Files

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Details of HO 207
Reference: HO 207
Title: Home Office and Ministry of Home Security: Civil Defence Regions, Headquarters and Regional Files

Files of correspondence and papers of Regional Commissioners and their officers relating to the co-ordination of civil defence and related services and to preparations for dealing with civil emergencies, including invasion. Most of the files are drawn from the LR, LR/EST, O/CR and London Boroughs series of the London Regional Office, which incorporate files opened in the Air Raid Precautions Department of the Home Office. In the case of regions outside London the series contains files of the Air Raid Precautions Department and the Home Security headquarters in addition to those of individual regional offices.

Date: 1935-1957

These files are grouped in sequences, arranged by subject rather than piece number, under three main headings: Region No 5 (London), pieces 1-1032; Regions Outside London (Headquarters Files), pieces 1033-1151; Regions Outside London (Regional Office Files), pieces 1152-1187. Within these headings the files are arranged alphabetically, by subject heading, place name or region.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Home Office, Civil Defence Regions, 1945-1955

Ministry of Home Security, Civil Defence Regions, 1939-1945

Physical description: 1187 file(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Administrative / biographical background:

In April 1939 twelve regional commissioners were appointed to co-ordinate the civil defence work of regional officials of government departments and local authorities. In May 1940, under defence regulations, they were given additional powers to direct local authorities in civil defence matters by delegation from the Minister of Home Security and were also enabled to issue orders in or control entry to defence areas, which soon afterwards included all parts of the country. The primary purpose of the regional commissioners was the assumption of full civil powers if communication between the government and the regions broke down. This never happened, but the commissioners did perform useful functions at regional level parallel to the co-ordinating activities of the Minister at the centre. Co-ordination of civil defence services was also maintained through regional councils composed of representatives of central departments and local authorities, army commands, industry, public utilities and other interests. An inspector general toured the regions and was responsible for training standards and reporting on the conduct of operations.

Under the regional commissioner and his deputy, each of the ministry's regional offices was headed by a principal officer and, in the event, the offices remained under close central control exercised by the Regional Organisation Division. Circulars on matters of administrative and operational importance were issued to them and to local authorities throughout the war by a number of headquarters divisions. Specialist regional officers were appointed for a variety of tasks, not all of them being responsible to the Minister of Home Security. Regional information officers were responsible to the Ministry of Information, regional works advisers to the Ministry of Works. General inspectors were appointed by the Ministry of Health and each region also contained a Treasury officer. Other government departments maintained liaison officers in the regions. Regional technical intelligence officers represented the Research and Experiments Department at regional level. In May 1940 regional technical advisers were appointed to give advice on engineering aspects of shelter and structural precautions programmes of local authorities under the technical direction of the Chief Engineer's Department. Regional war rooms were linked to the Home Security War Room.

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