Security - Suspect Packages Policy

Published: 25 August 2016
Freedom of information class: How we manage our resources

Details of our suspect packages policy

1. Introduction

There is no current intelligence to suggest that RoS premises are a target for the above devices. While it is unlikely that RoS would be a target for terrorist activity, it is sensible and prudent to put into place arrangements for dealing with this possibility, however remote, and to ensure that staff know what they should do. Please read these instructions carefully and remain alert.

The random screening of hand baggage is a significant deterrent and RoS has the right to refuse entry to anyone who does not allow you to search their possessions.

These security instructions should be read in conjunction with the RoS's Emergency Evacuation procedures Emergency evacuation procedures.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and Chemical or Biological (CB) Devices can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Although they may be large, they are not necessarily bulky and can be delivered in packages or parcels. Packages could be the size of a paperback book, while courier-delivered items may be much heavier.

It is not necessary to open an envelope or package in any particular way to activate an IED. It may be triggered by any attempt, however slight, to open it.

This guidance is based on advice from the Police on the handling of suspect packages which have been delivered to an organisation.

DO NOT set off the Fire Alarm

2. Purpose

The purpose of this procedure is:

  • To reinforce the RoS’s commitment to doing all that it reasonably can to safeguard its staff, estate, and service users.
  • To provide basic guidance for controlling and dealing with situations involving any bomb threats that may be received.
  • To provide basic guidance for controlling and dealing with situations involving any suspicious packages that may be received or discovered.
  • To promote an understanding amongst all staff of bomb threats and outline the action to be taken in the event of a bomb alert.
  • To promote an understanding amongst all staff of what constitutes a suspicious package and the action to be taken following the receipt or discovery of suspicious packages.
    To ensure that such incidents are investigated fully in line with the Incident Reporting Procedure.

3. What to look out for

The following examples are some of the things you should look out for but the list is not exhaustive, and individually these examples do not necessarily mean that the package is suspicious. However if several examples are present it might be worth considering the package as suspicious.


  • The item may have been delivered by hand from an unknown source.


  • Poor handwriting, spelling, typing or a stencilled address.
  • Job title listed but no name.
  • No return address printed on the package.
  • Addressed to someone no longer in the organisation.
  • Wrongly addressed, or come from an unexpected source (e.g. an unusual place).
  • Marked with restrictive endorsements such as “personal” or “confidential”.
  • Marked with threatening language.


  • Grease marks, any discolouration or crystals on the surface of the envelope.
  • Visible wiring or aluminium foil, especially if the envelope or package is damaged.
  • The envelope or package feels very heavy for its size.
  • The weight distribution may be uneven; contents may be rigid in a flexible envelope or appear to be under tension.
  • If a package, it may have excessive wrapping, tape or string.
  • There may be too many stamps for the weight of the package.
  • A pin-hole may be visible in the envelopes or outer wrapping.


  • An unusual odour, such as marzipan or machine oil.


  • Granular or finely powered material loose or in a container.

4. Handling of mail

  • Open all mail with a letter opener or other method that is least likely to disturb the contents.
  • Open packages/envelopes with a minimum of movement.
  • Do not blow into the envelope/ package.
  • Do not shake or pour out the contents.
  • Keep hands away from nose and mouth whilst opening mail.

Procedure if members of staff have any concerns

  • Handle the item carefully, DO NOT squeeze, press or tamper with it.
  • Once you decide that it is suspect, gently lay the package down on a hard horizontal surface in an area where it will not be disturbed by others; do not handle the package again once it has been laid down.
  • Contact the person in RoS who was to receive the package, or alternatively contact the sender if his/her name and address appears on the exterior of the package.
  • Call Security (ext. 3545 (MBH) or 0141 648 8841 (SVP), who will in turn contact the Police and an Estates Manager will also be contacted.
  • Get everyone to leave the room, one person should wait outside the room for the Police/Estates Manager to arrive (and also to prevent others entering the area), stand away from any areas of glazing and out of the line of sight of the package. Do not use radios or mobile phones in the vicinity of the package.

Note: the fire alarm MUST NOT be used to evacuate the building.

5. If you open a package which contains a suspicious substance:

  • Call Security ext. 3545 (MBH) or 0141 648 8841 (SVP), who will in turn contact the Police and an Estates manager.
  • Inform your Team Leader (if in the room).
  • It is important that any potential contamination to other people and areas is limited, for this reason you should do the following:
  • Prevent others from entering the room.
  • Close all windows and doors to the room, turn off computers and any other fan devices/air conditioning.
  • Avoid further contact with the substance if possible (i.e. do not touch your mouth, eyes etc.).
  • The only instance where thorough washing is advised is if you suffer discomfort following contact with what appears to be corrosive solid or liquid; lots of water should be used.
  • Remain in the room if possible. If you need to wash/undress, this should be done in the nearest vacated area nearby to prevent the spread of contamination.
  • Emergency services have procedures in place and will advise on the next course of action.

6. Suspicious packages found outside

  • Do not touch the package.
  • Call Security 0131 479 3692 (MBH) or 0141 648 8841 (SVP) who will in turn contact the Police and an estates manager.

7. Further Guidance

It is not possible to give absolute guidance on suspicious packages which applies in all circumstances.

The appropriate reaction will depend on a variety of circumstances, including the type of hazard represented and location. However, you should be aware that advised procedure is to move staff on the floor immediately above an incident to higher floors.

This may go against a natural instinct to escape from the building, but it is recommended best practice. In the unlikely event of such an incident, staff affected must comply with any instructions given to them for their own safety.

There is a very real risk that the thoughtless actions of an individual could endanger many others. It is crucial that any instructions given by Estates, on-site Security and / or the Emergency services are obeyed immediately and without question.

Any decision to evacuate the building, completely or in part, is taken by Estates after consultation with the Emergency Services.

Evacuation may be notified by word of mouth passed on by Estates / Security staff and by floor by floor.