New guidance published to prevent use of vehicles as weapons in terror attacks

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- Robust new guidance published to minimise risk of commercial vehicles being used in an attack
- Operators encouraged to improve knowledge of potential risks and develop rigorous security plans
- Latest step taken by Government to boost safety and reduce likelihood of terrorists and criminals gaining access to commercial vehicles



New guidance designed to prevent commercial vehicles, including vans, lorries, buses, coaches and even cranes from being used as weapons in acts of terrorism has been published this week (10th May 2021). The standard, which has been published by the British Standards Institution and sponsored by the Department for Transport, sets out a raft of security measures to prevent criminals and terrorists from accessing commercial vehicles.

To meet the new requirements, operators must:

-improve their knowledge of potential risks and determine which of those risks apply to their business
-develop a security management plan
-assess risk exposure
-put in place management and accountability for security

Other requirements will include checks of drivers’ references and previous employment history and also regular visual checks of vehicles for signs of tampering. To ensure this new standard is met, the Government is working with the industry including the Inst of Couriers to develop accreditation and certification schemes for commercial vehicle firms, with further details to be announced in due course. Attacks on the public involving vehicles, which have been targeted due to their size and potential impact, have had tragic consequences in recent years, including in the Westminster and London Bridge attacks of 2017.

This week's announcement by the DfT not only aims to create barriers to carrying out these types of attack but could also assist the fight against serious and organised crime, including helping to minimise the risk of drug and people smuggling. In 2019, people smuggling resulted in the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals, whose bodies were found in a lorry container in Essex. The new guidance is designed to minimise the risk of similar tragic events, which put lives in danger, from happening again.


Transport Minister Robert Courts said:

This is vital new guidance which will go a long way to help us in our fight against terrorism and organised crime. I whole-heartedly support this move and the British Standards Institution in their important work. “Terror attacks and organised crime involving commercial vehicles have had tragic and devastating effects in recent years, with every life lost leaving an unimaginable void in the lives of so many. “This Government will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the British public are kept safe.



The DfT-sponsored Publicly Available Specification (PAS) has been developed with the British Standards Institution (BSI) to mitigate the risk of malicious us of commercial vehicles.

Commercial Vehicles have been used as weapons to injure and kill people, referred to as a “vehicle as a weapon” (VAW) attacks. In other cases, vehicles have been used to facilitate other actions through deception or duress. Commercially-operated vehicles are also used in other forms of serious and organized crime including people smuggling, drug operations and vehicle and cargo theft.

The PAS sets out a process for the implementation of measures by operators of commercial vehicles, that aim to prevent these types of actions. The approach can be tailored to all operators, whether large or small, to ensure that the measures adopted are appropriate and proportionate to their business. The PAS will be available to download from the British Standards Institution website free of charge. The Department for Transport will also have a link to the BSI page on GOV.UK to redirect users.