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How to deal with a bomb threat

This section gives advice on what action to take should you suspect asbestos has been identified and or disturbed.

Assess the risk

Record details of the threat
  • Date and time
  • Method of communication (letter, phone, police etc.)
  • Who received the threat
  • Who took the call
  • Exact words used
Record details about the target
  • Who or what is the target
  • Is the target considered to be high-profile
  • List any demands that were made
Record details about the bomb
  • Where is the bomb
  • Were they specific with the bomb location
  • What time is it due to go off
  • Was the container specified
  • Was the type of container specified
  • What will cause it to explode
Record details about the caller
  • Sex
  • Approximate age
  • Noticeable accent/nationality
  • Did the caller place the bomb
  • Did the caller identify themself
  • Was a code given
  • State of mind (i.e. irrational, incoherent, distressed)
  • Are they reading from a prepared statement
  • Are there any background noises
  • What is the method used to call (mobile, landline, phone box)
Record any background information
  • Is the threat similar to other recent threats
  • If the threat is one of a series, were the previous threats genuine
  • Are you experiencing industrial relations problems
  • Are there any special events taking place, which may induce hoax calls, e.g. political meetings or controversial social gatherings
  • Was the threat received through a publicly available number
Call the police

You should immediately call 999 and report the threat to Police, even if you consider it to be a hoax.

  • Do the Police consider the threat to be credible?
  • Record any advice that you receive.
Report the incident to the your PiC and CPC and Ops Control (if you work for PFW)

Report the incident to the Person in Control (PiC) and Central Postal Control (CPC) and Ops Control (if you work for PFW)

  • If CPC agrees that no further action should be taken, the incident should be closed.
  • If CPC advises that further action should be taken, follow the guidance for search and evacuation below.

If a building search is required

Prepare to search the building

Divide the building into sectors.

  • A sector may be one large room or a number of smaller rooms.
  • The operational area of a mail centre would probably need to be divided into several search sectors.
  • Cloakrooms, stairs, corridors, lifts, car parks and other areas outside the building must also be included.
  • Prioritise assembly areas and areas which are accessible by the public.
Coordinate the search of the building

Find some volunteers to conduct the search. (The Police will not normally conduct the search, as they are unfamiliar with the premises and wouldn’t be aware of what is out of place.)

Brief the searchers on the importance of checking the building in a systematic and thorough manner.

  • Searchers need to practice in order to familiarise themselves with their areas and assess the time a search is likely to take.

Tell your searchers to look for anything that:

  • should not be there
  • cannot be accounted for
  • is out of place.

Emphasise that if anything is found it should not be touched or interfered with in any way.

Make a decision as to how the searchers will report back, bearing in mind that mobile phones or radio devices must not be used.

If no suspicious item is found

Inform Police and Central Postal Control (CPC) and Ops Control (if you work for PFW)

Agree with Police and CPC and Ops Control (if you work for PFW) if the incident can be closed.

Re-occupation of the building must always be discussed with the Police.

If a suspicious item is found

Report to Person in Control (PiC)

Any person who finds a suspicious item must notify the PiC and remain on hand to brief the Police of the exact location.

Inform Police and Central Postal Control (CPC) and Ops Control (if you work for PFW)

Notify Police and CPC and Ops control (if you work for PFW) that a suspicious item has been found.

Decide if you need to evacuate

If an evacuation has not already taken place consider doing so now.

Follow Police advice.

If evacuation is required

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Be aware!

Bombs are more likely to be planted in publicly accessible areas, eg. car parks. Therefore you need to decide if previously agreed evacuation areas are in an appropriate place to be used. If the Police are in attendance always follow their advice.

Fire Wardens report to assembly point
  • Ensure that everyone, including any visitors or contractors evacuates the building quickly and safely.
  • Ensure any person with special needs is able to evacuate.
  • Make a quick check of your area on the way out.
  • Ensure people go to the correct and safe assembly point.
  • Do not allow anyone to re-enter the building or leave the assembly point until it is confirmed that it is safe to do so.
  • Report to the Person in Control (PiC) at the assembly point to advise/confirm the situation for your area.
  • If a Work Area Manager (WAM) reports to you that someone is missing pass this information to the PiC.
  • Specific security procedures, such as the securing of assets, should only be performed if they can be done without placing people at risk.
Work Area Managers report to assembly point
  • Where available, bring attendance sheets with you to the assembly point.
  • Try to account for all your team. Report anyone missing to a fire warden, along with where they were last seen.
First Aiders report to assembly point
  • Ensure that first aid equipment is taken to the assembly point.
  • Report to PiC at assembly point to advise / confirm the situation for your area.
People with special duties report to assembly point (ie. gate / door keepers, receptionists etc)
  • Report to the PiC at assembly point to advise / confirm the situation for your area.
Person in Control reports to assembly point
  • Confirm that the fire evacuation procedures are underway, as set out in your fire evacuation plan.
  • Ensure that any information that may help in trying to account for everyone, and assist the Emergency Services, is taken to the assembly point, eg. signing-on sheets, visitors’ book and site log book.
  • Ensure that Fire Wardens and people with special duties report to you to confirm that the building is clear or otherwise, eg. Receptionists, Doorkeepers, Security, First Aiders, Gate House.
  • Do not allow any person to re-enter the building or leave the assembly point until it is confirmed that it is safe to do so.
Co-ordinate with Emergency Services
  • Use the unit plan, found in section 2 of this folder, to notify the Group Property Helpdesk, Central Postal Control (CPC) and your line manager, who will have access to the contingency plans.
  • Use the incident log contained in the front pocket of this handbook to manage the incident and ensure that contingency arrangements are deployed as necessary.

Assemble a team to manage the incident

You will be busy! So to ensure that nothing is neglected you should grab four competent people and assign each of them to an area of responsibility below. Write down their names and mobile numbers. You should then get together every 20 minutes to review and record progress.

People - ensure the safety and welfare of our people

1. Record the basic incident details

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location (mark on site plan if easier)
  • How was the incident brought to your attention?
  • Brief description of incident

2. Confirm with Fire Wardens that the building is clear

The Fire and Rescue Service will want to know if you believe the building to be clear. (They will not put their people at risk if the building is empty). Talk to each of the Fire Wardens and record:

  • Their name
  • The area of the building they are responsible for
  • If they believe that area to be clear

Check off the pre-prepared zones on the site plan if easier.


3. Arrange roll calls

It is very difficult to account for everyone via a roll call (not everyone signs in, people go to different evacuation points, etc.) but you must attempt to account for everyone.

  • Ensure you have a Fire Warden or appoint a person at each evacuation point.
  • At each evacuation point, record the names of visitors or contractors present.
  • Return the list to the Person in Control (PiC) to match names with visitors’ book.
  • Ask Work Area Managers to try to account for their people.
  • Write down the names of anyone they cannot account for and pass to the PiC.

4. Record details of any missing person, including:

  • Their name
  • Last known location

5. Record the details of any people taken away for treatment, including:

  • Name of individual
  • Taken to (name of hospital, GP surgery, etc.)
  • By? (ambulance, colleague, etc.)

6. Anticipate the needs of people still on site.

Consider what the needs of any people still onsite may be, and take action to meet these needs. These may include:

  • Information
  • Food/water
  • Shelter
  • Toilets
  • Keys
  • Cash
  • Communication with family
  • Trauma counselling
  • Transport home
  • Other
Property - assess any damage to business assets

Depending upon the severity of the incident, and without putting yourself at risk, assess the following:

  • Damage to building infrastructure
    (location, extent, impact on operation – mark on site plan if easier)
  • Damage to sorting equipment
    (mech, sorting frames, etc.)
  • Damage to vehicles
  • Access to site
    (do we have access to the site?)
  • Access to building and security keys
    (do we have access to the building?)
  • Shared site
    (list any other business units on this site)
  • Possible wider environmental damage

Note: If you have evacuated the building, it is unlikely that the Emergency Services will allow you back in – you may have to talk to people who were close to the incident.

Operations - assess the operational status

Make a quick assessment of the impact on the operation.

  • What stage of the workplan are you at?
  • What is the impact on the operation?
  • When is the next shift due?
  • Any other notes
Communications - keep people informed about what is happening

Keep people informed about what is happening.

Liaise with emergency services (if applicable)

Make a record of:

  • What services required (police, fire, ambulance)
  • Time called
  • Time arrived
  • Name of the senior officer

Note: The Emergency Services may want to know the location of your gas/electricity isolation points, etc. These should be listed in your unit plan and marked on your site/building layout plan, which are contained in section 2 of the Stay Calm handbook.

Ensure information is shared within the business

Ensure that information is shared in a timely manner with Central Postal Control (CPC), your line manager, Group Property Helpdesk and any other relevant business units.

Make a record of:

  • contact name
  • time called
  • name of contact
  • advice given / action promised

Refer any media enquiries to the Royal Mail Press Office

If you are approached by the media refer them to the Royal Mail Press Office (24×7) on 020 7250 2468.

Conduct a formal review

Once the incident is over the PiC must conduct a formal review, seek to identify improvement opportunities

If in doubt at any stage always call Central Postal Control (CPC)

Central Postal Control deals with issues on a regular basis and will be able to talk you through how to deal with any situation.