Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review the changes made to civil protection in the UK, both legislative and capacity building, that aim to make the UK more resilient. Design/methodology/approach – Reviews the background to changes in UK civil protection and compares these with the work being done by the broader disaster management community on the meaning and development of resilience to a range of threats. Findings – Finds that the UK approach has been deflected by the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001 and is clearly focused on organisational resilience. This top-down approach does not augur well in terms of promoting a more resilient society. The paper also questions if it is time to take a broader view of what constitutes an emergency. Originality/value – The recent changes in UK civil protection are in many ways welcome. But the promotion of more resilient communities requires a bottom-up as opposed to a top-down approach. Government funding is aimed mainly at institutional resilience. This raises the question of how to promote a broader agenda of more resilient societies able to respond to a broad range of threats.