HO 207 - Ministry of Home Security: Civil Defence Regions, Headquarters and Regional Files.

This series contains 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.

In April 1939, twelve regional commissioners were appointed to co-ordinate the civil defence work of regional officials, 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.

For the London region, these files include fortnightly progress reports on shelter construction and management; monthly census reports on their occupancy; surveys of living conditions and various social issues within public shelters; and records relating to the welfare and entertainment services that operated in these large communal spaces. For regions outside of London, selected files include correspondence relating to the provision of public shelters and inspections of the Civil Defence schemes in certain areas, and further reports on the impact of bombing in particular towns and cities.

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