role and function of incident support units

ben made this Freedom of Information request to Highways Agency

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Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to request what the job of an incident support unit crew member entails?

Yours faithfully,


Cowie, Malcolm,

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your email of 21 July 2008 about what the job of an Incident
Support Unit (ISU) crew member entails.

The purpose of an ISU is to minimise disruption to road users by providing
a safe and timely response to incidents and quicker clearance of blocked

Whilst many different types of incidents occur on our Network, there are a
number of basic functions, defined below, which can be carried out by an
ISU at the scene of most incidents.

The primary functions of ISUs are to:

(i) Make the incident scene safer through the application of emergency

traffic management,

(ii) Relieve congestion and remove hazards to safety by the clearance of

debris from traffic lanes and hardshoulders,

(iii) Undertake repairs to highway infrastructure damaged as a result of


(iv) Assess the scene and secure the attendance of additional or

resources where the task is beyond the ISU's capabilities,

(v) Provide a communications link between the incident site and our

provider's network control centre, or its equivalent.

When not engaged in fulfilling the primary functions, the ISU can be
employed on secondary functions such as:

(i) Patrolling, monitoring and reporting on the network,

(ii) Undertaking routine maintenance,

(iii) Making safe defects to the highway infrastructure.

providing that these functions do not compromise the response to incidents
and can be safely interrupted to meet required response times.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further

Yours Sincerely,


Malcolm Cowie
Highways Agency | 5 Broadway | Broad Street | Birmingham | B15 1BL
Tel: +44 (0) 121 6788081 | Fax: + 44 (0) 121 6874133
GTN: 6189 8081

Safe roads, Reliable journeys, Informed travellers
Highways Agency, an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport.

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

jamie left an annotation ()

The description of the isu is wrong as in certain areas our primary job is maintance and there not working in a safe place as everyone else has protection on the hard shoulder when working but area 13 dont. Something will only be done when one is killed hopefully it wont be me

steve left an annotation ()

steve. The definition of the Incident support unit(ISU) posted by the Highways agency is correct. However the ISU operatives are employed by the service providers who have the contract. The service providers have other contractual obligations, such as the routine maintenance of their network. ISU provide the convenient loop-hole in safe working practice's (The red book), to carry out routine maintenance without having to provide (Traffic management) a safe working environment, As would have to be used if the work was carried out by any other work force. Thus saving the service provider money. Lets hope no one gets killed in the name of PROFIT BEFORE PEOPLE.

Peter Silverman left an annotation ()

That was a useful enquiry.

Part of an ISU's routine maintenance function is cleaning/litter picking - a topic covered at

Dave left an annotation ()

As a ex ISU I'd like to thank the current Conservative Government for ending our valued role on the Highways up and down Britain thus ending a valued service to many road users

gunnerg left an annotation ()

Are all the ISU to be disbanded, just noticed Balfour Beatty took over at area 10!!!!

anthony robinson left an annotation ()

As ex isu opperative i agree with Jamie we worked together and there was no pretection on the hard shoulder,plus why dispand the isu we did a good job

Andrew left an annotation ()

providing that these functions do not compromise the response to incidents
and can be safely interrupted to meet required response times.

Yet once you start litter picking you are not able to respond as above as your litter/debris is taking up safe working area. Then if you take it off the vehicle to collect later. 1. You are eating into your response time. 2. You are in effect Fly Tipping