Crime Matters


3.1. Past experience has shown that it is relatively easy to plant a bomb without being detected, especially in areas to which the general public have access.

3.2. Bombs and incendiary devices need not be physically large to cause a great deal of damage and are quite easily concealed in everyday articles such as : briefcases, handbags or even cigarette packets.

3.3. Given the above information, it can be seen that when bomb threats are made indicating the presence of a bomb on your premises, the threat must be taken seriously until all reasonable measures have been taken to establish the threat is a hoax.

Basic Security

3.4. If you have implemented the security measures outlined in the earlier parts of this advice you have already taken the first step to keep potential "bombers" away.

3.5. In addition, good housekeeping both inside and outside your premises will further limit the chances of an explosive device being planted and remaining undetected. A neat, tidy and organised office is easy and quick to search, as anything unfamiliar is likely to be noticeable.

3.6. Reduce the number of possible locations for hiding a bomb by keeping public areas free of unnecessary obstructions, locking storage cupboards and empty rooms, and sealing off unnecessary cavities.

Bomb Threats

3.7. Most bomb threats are received by telephone. The person receiving the call should try and obtain as much information from the caller as possible including :-

(a) The location;

(b) Description of the device;

(c) When the device is due to explode;

(d) Identity of the caller;

(e) The reason for the threat;

(f) Details of the voice;
(Male / Female / Young / Old Intoxicated / Rational / Accent etc.)

(g) Whether the message was read or spontaneous;

(h) The type of background noise, if any;

(i) And any other peculiar details.

3.8. The receiver should try and keep the caller talking for as long as possible and alert a colleague to listen in on the call.

3.9. In order to assist in assessing the nature of the call, it is suggested that you either keep a readily accessible checklist in the telephone exchange (an example is at Appendix I) or, better still, install an automatic recording facility. Call number display systems should be considered as these indicate where this call is coming from.

3.10. Once the call is finished, inform the Security Officer immediately, who will in any event inform the police by dialling '999' and state what action he intends to take. (see below)

The Decision to Evacuate

3.11. The Security Officer must now make one of the following decisions :-

(a) Do nothing; or

(b) Search, then evacuate if a suspicious object is found; or

(c) Partial evacuation with search teams and essential staff remaining and total evacuation if a suspicious object is found; or

(d) Immediate, total evacuation.

3.12. In making a decision, the Security Officer will have to consider the level of the threat and the following :-

(a) Do Nothing
- If there is any possibility that the call may be genuine the security officer must take action;

(b) Search and Evacuate
- This is the first level of action, which will cause least disruption but will mean exposing personnel to danger for a longer period if the threat is genuine;

(c) Partial Evacuation
- This will minimise the risk factor for the majority of personnel and will expedite searching and clearing of the premises; and

(d) Immediate Evacuation
- Only applicable where the threat is believed to be high risk. If a time limit has been disclosed, search procedures must be completed no later than 20 minutes before the given time.


3.13. Contingency planning is of the utmost importance. Your plans for searching the premises in the event of a bomb threat must cover the whole of the premises, dealing with public areas first, followed by areas generally not accessible to the public and finally, non-public areas.

3.14. Whilst police may assist in searching your premises, the best persons to conduct the search are your permanent staff, as they are familiar with the layout and should easily recognise something unusual or which does not belong.

Suspicious Objects

3.15. When searching for suspicious objects searchers should continually be asking themselves the following questions about suspicious objects :-

(a) Should it be there?

(b) Can it be accounted for?

(c) Is it out of place?

3.16. If not satisfied with the answers to these questions or if in any doubt the object must be treated as suspicious and the police called.

Suspected Bombs

3.17. If the object is suspected to be a bomb :-


Do not make any radio or mobile telephone transmissions within 25 metres of object;
If possible leave a distinctive marker near (not touching) the object;

Move personnel to a safe designated area;
Evacuate as directed;
All witnesses should remain at the control point to be available for interview by the police;
Inform the police.

Bombs Through the Post

3.18. There are a number of indications, any one of which should alert you to the possibility that a letter or package contains an explosive device :-

(a) Grease marks on the exterior wrapping;

(b) An odour of marzipan or almonds;

(c) Visible wiring or tin foil, especially if the envelope or package is damaged;

(d) A disproportionate weight / size ratio;

(e) An uneven weight distribution;

(f) Rigid contents in a flexible envelope or wrapping;

(g) Excessive wrapping;

(h) Poor handwriting, spelling or typescript;

(i) Incorrect address;

(j) Unexpected origin;

(k) High stamp value for weight of contents; and

(l) Unusual or unexpected mode of delivery, e.g. by hand.

3.19. It is strongly recommended that staff handling incoming mail are made aware of the above indications through regular briefings and the posting of a notice in your mail room.

3.20. Letter bombs are designed to kill or injure on opening of the package. If anyone suspects that a letter or package is an explosive device they should :-

Evacuate the area and inform the security officer and police
Do not put the package into anything or place anything on top

Technical Assistance

3.21. In addition to human methods of checking mail, a wide variety of explosive detection equipment including X-Ray machines and explosives "sniffing" devices are commercially available. For further general information please contact the Crime Prevention Bureau.