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No severe weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office at time of going to press, but if we do see worsen weather, readers can expect the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to be enforced by local authorities.
Homeless Link, who produce the guidance to local authorities on SWEP, state “every local authority should have a severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) that kicks in when the temperature is forecast to drop to zero degrees (or below) for three consecutive nights.” This requires councils and organizations to provide shelter on the first night of the forecast.
Despite the requirement for SWEP to be implemented if three freezing nights are forecast, in their guidance, Homeless Link stress this “is the absolute minimum requirement.” For example, in their local guidance on SWEP Solihull Council state “cold or severe weather are defined as any time during which the night time temperature is predicted to reach zero degrees Celsius or below for one night.”
Similarly, the guidance from Homeless Link makes it clear that the aim is to preserve lives, and so temperature is not the only consideration. Factors such as having snow and wind chill factor should be monitored. Let’s hope it’s not needed, but if it is, take full advantage of the shelter.