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Postal threat

Postal threats

If you discover a suspicious package, letter or parcel in a mail room or anywhere else, report it immediately to police by calling 999. Specialist trained officers will be able to advise you on what to do next and provide decontamination facilities.

Terrorists and others wishing to cause harm or disruption have long used postal and courier services to deliver hazardous items to target recipients. A properly conducted risk assessment should give you a good idea of the likely threat to your organisation and indicate precautions you need to take.

Delivered items can include letters, packets and parcels and may contain:

  • Explosive or incendiary devices

  • Sharps or blades

  • Offensive materials

  • Chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials (bulk or small / discrete quantities) or devices.

Anyone receiving a suspicious delivery is unlikely to know exactly which type it is, so procedures should cater for every eventuality.

Possible indicators

Delivered items come in a variety of shapes and sizes; a well-made one will look innocuous but there are many possible indicators that a delivered item may be of concern.

  • Oddly shaped or lopsided        

  • Unusually heavy for its size

  • Envelope flap stuck down completely

  • Poorly or inaccurately addressed        

  • Unfamiliar or unusual writing style

  • Odours emanating from package

  • There are protruding wires

  • Small holes in envelope or wrapping   

What to do

If you discover a suspicious item in a mail room, or anywhere else in the building:

  • Do not delay and call police on 999.

  • Do not move to another area or to take it to a police station.

  • If you’re holding the item, put it down on a cleared, flat surface, separate from other items. Otherwise, do not touch it.

  • Move away and do not use your mobile phone or radio within 15 metres of the item.

  • Tell others what is happening.

  • Ask witnesses to wait for police. Encourage them to write down what they have seen, but discourage them from discussing it with each other before police arrive.

  • Tell police if the item has been opened, or partially opened.

  • You may assess the need to:

    • clear people from adjacent rooms, including above and below.

    • Prevent others entering the cleared area.

If you think this is a chemical or biological incident

  • Shut down the air conditioning or ventilation into or out of the affected rooms. If you can isolate these rooms, it may not be necessary to evacuate the rest of the building.

  • Tell anyone who has been near the item not to touch their eyes, nose or anywhere else on their body, or brush their clothing. They can change their clothing and leave items in an isolated area.

  • Reassure them that medical aid is on its way.

  • Make a list of who might have been exposed to the material

For further information please visit the CPNI website.