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Screening Bulk Deliveries

Bulk deliveries can provide a means for getting explosives, weapons and other threat items through a site’s secure perimeter.

Last Updated 26 February 2023


Man Screening bulk deliveriesLike postal and courier deliveries, bulk deliveries - such as office, catering and cleaning supplies - can provide a means for getting explosives, weapons and other threat items through a site's secure perimeter. Whilst bulk deliveries have some similarities - and hence pose some similar challenges - to postal and courier deliveries, there are also some significant differences that warrant consideration. Bulk deliveries (as their name suggests) will tend to be comparatively large, hence offering scope for concealing larger explosive devices or larger weapons / quantities of ammunition. Their size and bulk may make such deliveries difficult to search efficiently and effectively.

Operational requirement

It is essential to understand the size, type and volume of deliveries the organisation or site receives, the threat it faces from delivered items, and the extent to which risk needs to be mitigated through screening and other measures. It is strongly recommended that the organisation is clear about what types and sizes of threats it is essential to detect, desirable to detect, and indeed not necessary to detect, and also understand likely demand for the screening process. Collectively, these factors should inform the choice of screening measures, the design of the process, detail of the operating procedures, and the training that staff require.

Risk management

Before committing resource to screening bulk deliveries, it is important to understand the threat posed to the site from deliveries and to what extent the risks can be mitigated by other, simpler, and likely more cost-effective, measures. These may range from only accepting expected deliveries (e.g. matching delivery to a specific purchase order number); checking the consignment broadly matches the order / delivery note (e.g. correct number of boxes or pallets); checking delivery for signs of tampering or damage; delivery on a certain day or within a time window; known delivery vehicle and/or driver, to more thorough assurance of the supply chain.


Ideally, bulk deliveries should be routed to a dedicated off-site facility, screened to the required standard and then delivered to the site through a suitably secured process (e.g. using the organisation's own vehicles and staff, with the load-space suitably sealed and loads consolidated to minimise the number of vehicles entering the site).

Where off-site screening isn't feasible or appropriate, deliveries should, if at all possible, be off-loaded and screened at the site perimeter. Conducting screening activity within the secure perimeter significantly and unnecessarily increases risk, as does allowing suppliers' and third party delivery vehicles on site.

Methods for screening deliveries

For some applications a screening approach that is largely manual may be sufficient to meet the needs of the organisation. This could range from a quick check that the delivered items broadly match the order and that their integrity hasn't been compromised, to opening and inspecting the contents of every container. This approach could be supplemented with simple visual inspection tools where it would not otherwise be possible to look inside items.

Only where it has been established that technology (such as X-ray or explosives detection technologies) will add real value to screening processes should its use be considered. Any organisation planning to procure such screening solutions should satisfy itself, where necessary seeking independent expert advice, that the capability provided meets its operational needs.

With any screening approach that is adopted it is important to ensure that the process is specified and delivered in a way that addresses, and is proportionate to, the particular risks the site faces. All screening processes have limitations; these need to be properly understood, accepted, and if necessary mitigated against. Recommendations for screening bulk deliveries given here should be seen as just one element of a wider security strategy.

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