Suspect Letters/Packets Containing Drugs & Royal Mail Group Handover of Mail to Police Officers and HM Customs Officers Procedure & Guidance:
To: All Branches
A small number of cases have come to our attention where individual members on sorting duties have come across letters or packets in the mail which they suspect contain illegal, prohibited drugs, due to the obviously strong pungent odour being given off by the item concerned. However when the items were referred to management, the incidents were not always handled correctly, in one case with a manager threatening a Postman/OPG member with Conduct Code action when he refused to deliver it and insisted, quite correctly, that the matter be referred to Royal Mail Security and the Police. The manager concerned handled the matter incorrectly and was unaware of the correct Royal Mail official procedures to follow. Clearly the manager in that case should have sought appropriate advice which did not happen. Our member, on the other hand did the right and proper thing in identifying the suspect package and referring it to management for the appropriate actions via Royal Mail Security and the Police.
This LTB therefore is to raise awareness amongst Representatives of the correct procedure, should our members identify a suspect package containing suspected drugs. The procedure is set out in the attached copy of the Royal Mail Guidance “RMG Handover of Mail to Police and Customs Procedure,” Version 6.0, dated November 2014, Reviewed November 2016, Section 3. This reads as follows:-
3. Prohibited Drugs in the Mail
3.1 The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 prohibits the import, export, supply and possession of controlled drugs. If a postal packet is suspected of containing prohibited drugs please have regard to the information below.
3.2 Overseas Packet into or out of the UK. Where a postal packet is suspected of containing prohibited drugs and the packet has come from abroad or is destined to go out of the United
Kingdom then the Postal Services Act 2000 allows the detention of the packet so that it can be handed over to a Customs Officer. The Customs Officer may open the postal packet in the presence of a Royal Mail employee. The suspect postal packet can be detained at any point in the Royal Mail pipeline.
3.3 UK Postal Packets. If Royal Mail staff identify a postal packet that is suspected of containing prohibited drugs and the packet has not come from abroad and is not destined to go out of the United Kingdom the Police and the Security Helpdesk (020 7239 6655) or out of hours, Central Postal Control on 0345 266 1060 should be contacted.
3.4 The Police Officer attending Royal Mail premises should be shown the suspect postal packet. Without opening it, the Police Officer should confirm whether the postal packet contains prohibited drugs. If there is a positive identification by the Police Officer or by a Police sniffer dog that prohibited drugs are present the Police should be informed that a controlled delivery can be facilitated by Royal Mail Security. Alternatively, they can remove the postal packet unopened after completing the receipt embedded below. (GS231 Receipt for Postal Item)
3.5 Where this is dealt with by CPC the actions taken will be entered on the CPC Log as a RM Security incident and reported to the Security Helpdesk.
3.6 If the Police Officer is unable to identify the contents of the unopened postal packet then Royal Mail Security can still arrange a controlled delivery.
3.7 A controlled delivery is one where either the Police deliver the postal packet as an agent of Royal Mail or the delivery is undertaken by a Royal Mail employee at a time known to the Police. Postal packets must not be delayed in order to facilitate a controlled delivery.
3.8 Should it be decided that a controlled delivery is the preferred course of action the Security Helpdesk should be contacted on 0207 239 6655 who may make further arrangements with the relevant Investigation Team Manager.
3.9 If the Police contact Royal Mail alleging that a specific postal packet is suspected of containing prohibited drugs then arrangements should be made for the Police to attend the relevant location and identify the postal packet. When the postal packet has been identified the process in 3.4 and 3.5 should be followed.
3.10 A postal packet which is suspected of containing prohibited drugs should not be opened at any time by a Royal Mail employee. Once a postal packet has been identified by an expert as containing prohibited drugs then the Police or Customs should be allowed to deal with the packet as they think fit. A Police Officer, Customs Officer or sniffer dog will be regarded as an expert for the purposes of the identification of prohibited drugs. ©
If incidents occur, CWU Reps should refer managers to the attached Royal Mail Guide and advise them to contact either the Security Helpdesk (020 7239 6655) or out of hours, Central Postal Control on 0345 266 1060 for further advice. Security help desk will then take control of the situation and give the appropriate advice, which invariably results in the matter being referred to the Police who may take the package or letter away for further investigation after issuing an official receipt. This is the normal process if an item is identified if it has progressed down the mail pipeline to either a Processing Centre or Delivery Office.
If a suspect drugs containing item is identified at an International Inward Office, the process is slightly different in that it would be referred to Customs Officers working on site within the office.
In conclusion, our members identifying such packages for further investigation have and should continue to do the right thing in reporting these matters and should be congratulated and commended for their attention to the matter and wanting the appropriate action taken. There should of course be no negative repercussions aimed at members for their vigilance in such cases when they occur.
Would all CWU Area Representatives, Safety, Delivery, Distribution, Processing please note the attached guide and correct procedures and support and advise members and managers accordingly as and when required should incidents occur as outlined above and ensure the appropriate action is taken should members find themselves in a similar situation on discovering a suspected package or letter containing illegal, prohibited substances.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
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Attachment 1 – LTB680/16 Suspect Letters/Packets Containing Drugs