Salisbury Business Improvement District

CBRN Issues

18th August 2022

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear materials. 

You may have seen on the news, in the past there have been incidents where a non-toxic white powder has been delivered to businesses.

On Thursday the 14th July 2020 there was a large emergency service presence in Newport after a suspicious package containing white powder was sent to the passport office. The building was evacuated as a precaution and was shut for a number of hours.  The fire service were able to determine after examinations that the powder was "not toxic or harmful to touch".

On Friday the 8th July 2022 a business in Clifton Village was evacuated after an 'unknown white substance' was delivered to it.  Samples of the substance were taken and tested, and the substance was determined to have been a non-hazardous white powder.

The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) have engaged with specialists from the National CBRN Centre who provide the following advice:

“White powder/suspicious substance incidents cause businesses serious inconvenience. In some instances it is absolutely necessary to evacuate, but in most case we find that the substances are either harmless, or are in sealed bags where exposure has not taken place. Without appropriate advice early from a trained and qualified specialist, it is very difficult to balance an unknown risk versus the impact it has on businesses and the wider public.

It is therefore extremely important that businesses are aware of current guidance available to them. However, it is imperative that the police have a mechanism to assess the appropriate response. With that in mind, the response to such an incident must involve early engagement by the Police Control Room manager with a CBRN Tactical Advisor. A CBRN TA is trained and equipped to ask the pertinent questions to garner enough information and intelligence to offer proportionate and appropriate advice. Without this specialist advice, there is a higher risk that those commanding incidents either do too little, thus exposing public and emergency responders to unnecessary risk or potentially undertake disproportionate measures which impacts on our public.”

I recommend you review your mail handling procedures and CPNI have a security campaign for mail screening that can support internal policy, awareness and staff training and you can also make reference to PAS 97 2021.

Also consider evacuation routes and assembly points in case of a layered attack.  Assembly points and routes should be searched for any unattended items and consider suspicious vehicles/persons.

For more information about CBRN click here.