1.1 small courier deliveries and mail handling
Most businesses will receive a large volume of mail and other deliveries and this offers a potentially attractive route to facilities for terrorists.
go to step 97: 2015 mail filtering and security specification
pas 97 is useful for those assessing the risks an organization faces from postal threats and implementing appropriate security and detection measures, either in-house or outsourced.
1.2 items delivered
Delivered items, which include malicious letters, parcels, packages, and anything delivered by mail or courier service, have been a common tactic used by criminals and terrorists. A properly done risk assessment should give you a good idea of the potential threat to your organization and indicate what precautions you should take.
Delivered items may be explosive, incendiary, contain sharp objects or blades, or chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) material. The phrase “white powders” is often used in the context of mail and encompasses CBR material as well as benign materials (note: such materials may not be white and may not be powders). it is unlikely that anyone who receives a suspicious delivery will know what type it is, so procedures must take all eventualities into account.
A delivered item may have received rough handling in the mail and is therefore unlikely to detonate when moved. any attempt to open it may activate it or release the contents. threat items come in a variety of shapes and sizes; a well-made device will appear innocuous, but there may be telltale signs.
2.1 Suspicious Mail/Delivery Indicators
General indicators that a delivered item may be of concern include:
- an unexpected item, especially if delivered by hand
- a padded envelope (“jiffy bag”) or other bulky package
- an additional inner envelope or other contents that may be difficult to remove
- excessive labeling or sealing that encourages opening at a particular end or in a particular way
- odd shape or crooked
- a flap of the envelope glued down completely (normally, gummed envelope flaps leave small gaps at the edges)
- marked ‘to be opened only by…’ ‘personal’ or ‘confidential’
- an item addressed to an organization or title (rather than a specific individual)
- unexpected or unusual origin (postmark and/or return address)
- no return address or return address that cannot be verified
- poor or inaccurate address/unevenly or unusual printed address
- unknown handwriting or style unusual
- unusual postmark or no postmark
- more stamps than necessary for the size or weight of the package
- grease or oil stains emanating from the package
- odors emanating from the package
2.2 explosive or incendiary indicators
Additional explosive or incendiary indicators include:
- unusually heavy or uneven weight distribution
- small hole(s) in the envelope or wrapper
- the presence of wiring
2.3 indicators of “white powder” (cbr)
Additional chemical, biological or radiological (CBR) indicators include:
- powders or liquids emanating from the package
- wrapper stained by liquid leakage
- marked with written warning(s)
- unexpected items or materials found in packaging upon opening or x-raying (loose or in a container) such as powdered, crystalline, or granular solids; liquids; sticky substances or residues
- unexpected odors when opened
- sudden onset of illness or irritation of the skin, eyes and nose
3. what you can do
The initial step will be acknowledgment that an incident has occurred (eg, using the indicators described above), although the precise nature of the incident (eg, cbr) may not be immediately apparent. Next, the response procedure will be enacted, including communication with the emergency services that will provide the appropriate response. Here are some points to keep in mind when planning your response. ensuring that the right personnel are familiar with your response procedure is key to its successful implementation.
- make sure communication with staff and emergency services is anticipated.
- make sure doors can be closed quickly, if necessary.
- Plan your evacuation routes in advance, making sure they don’t lead building occupants through affected areas. consider how you will communicate evacuation routes to occupants during an incident. the level of evacuation may vary depending on the nature of an incident and may not require the evacuation of your entire building or site.
- consult your building services manager about the feasibility of emergency shutdown or insulation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (hvac) systems (including local exhaust systems, for example, in kitchens) and ensuring that such plans are rehearsed.
Note: Due to the complexity of HVAC systems and the variability between buildings and sites, it is not possible to provide generic advice on whether or not to tamper with HVAC systems in response to an incident; consultation with your organization’s building services manager and/or specialist HVAC engineers are essential.
You do not need to make any special arrangements for medical care beyond the normal provision of first aid. the emergency services will take care of the treatment of the victims. however, the provision of impromptu decontamination materials (absorbent materials and water) in a suitable location (i.e., where contaminated personnel would likely evacuate) may be appropriate.
3.1 actions upon discovery of any suspicious delivered items
you might discover a suspicious item in a mail room or elsewhere in the building; make sure you have appropriate emergency response plans.
3.2 avoid unnecessary manipulations and x-rays:
if you are holding the item, place it on a flat, clear surface
- keep it separate so it’s easily identifiable
- don’t move it, even to take an x-ray
- if it’s in an x-ray center, leave it there
3.3 walk away immediately
- clean the immediate area and each adjoining room, including rooms above and below
- if there is any suggestion of chemical, biological or radiological materials, move those directly affected to a safe place near the incident, keep these people separate from those who are not involved
- keep others from getting close to or accessing cleared areas
- do not use mobile phones or radios two-way in the cleared area or within fifteen meters of the suspicious package
- regularly communicate with staff, visitors and the public
3.4 notify the police
- if the item has been fully or partially opened before it is considered suspicious, it is essential that the police be notified
- ensure that informants and witnesses remain available to report to the police , and that the accuracy of their observations be preserved: encourage witnesses to immediately record their observations in writing and discourage them from discussing the incident or their observations with others before the arrival of the police
3.5 additional cbr specific actions
- if a cbr incident is suspected, perform impromptu decontamination of contaminated individuals as quickly as possible, ideally within the first 15 minutes
- in the event of a cbr incident cbr, it is recommended that elevators should not be used to move or evacuate the building
- if the hvac system disturbance is included in your response plan (see note above), it should be carried out as quickly as possible possible
4. plan your mail handling and screening procedures
While not every suspicious item will be dangerous or malicious, you may not be able to tell without the help of emergency services. therefore, communication with the emergency services is important to trigger the appropriate response, as highlighted above.
A risk assessment is essential to ensure that any measures or procedures your organization implements are proportionate to the risk you face. Your local police Counter Terrorism Security Advisor (CTSA) can assist you with this process by providing information to support threat and impact assessments, as well as relevant mitigation measures. Keep the following in mind in your planning:
- Consider processing all incoming mail and deliveries at a single point. ideally this should be off-site or in a separate building, or at least in an area that can be easily isolated and where deliveries can be handled without going through other parts of the building.
- consider your organizational response in the event of changes to your organization’s risk assessment or mail flows.
- ensure all staff handling mail are informed and trained on how to recognize and respond to to the threats facing your organization. include front desk staff and encourage regular correspondents to put their return address on each item.
- make sure all sources of incoming mail (e.g. royal mail, courier, and hand-delivery) are included in your overall selection process. note that not all mail flows may require the same level of detection (for example, if it is considered lower risk, such as internal mail).
- Currently, there are no capable cbr detectors to reliably identify all hazards. In addition, while x-ray mail scanners can detect devices for spreading CBR materials (eg explosive devices), they will not detect the materials themselves. For more tips on detecting cbr, contact your local ctsa.
- staff should be aware of the usual pattern of deliveries and be informed of unusual deliveries.
- consider security measures physical protection (for example, blast protection, dedicated HVAC systems, specialized filtration, washing, and showering facilities) that you need to protect your organization and those who screen mail. these should be proportional to the level of detection being carried out, but consider the highest anticipated level of detection that may be required, as physical protection measures may be difficult to modify in response to any changes in the threat.
- ensure that certain mail handling areas can be quickly evacuated. rehearse evacuation procedures and routes, as well as communication mechanisms that would be used during the incident.
- personnel responsible for handling mail should be aware of the importance of self-isolation (in a safe place) and postal item of interest (i.e. leave it where it is, do not transport it to another part of the building for further inspection) to reduce contamination.
go to the cpni mail and messaging control web page
go to the cpni mail filtering and security campaign webpage