UK Government Decontamination Service (GDS)

The UK Government Decontamination Service (GDS), is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). GDS helps the UK prepare for recovery following a deliberate act involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials, or an accidental release of hazardous materials (HazMat).

We provide guidance to the responsible authorities on the decontamination of buildings, infrastructure and open environment exposed to CBRN materials.

We also plan and arrange for decontamination operations to be available to the responsible authorities should the need arise.

CBRN emergency contact

For a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) or major HazMat incident call the GDS on call officer on 0300 1000 316 (24/7availability).

When activating in an emergency, you will need to provide GDS with the following information:

  • your name, organisation and contact details
  • nature of incident
  • location of incident
  • support required from GDS
  • if known, the locations of the Recovery Co-ordinating Group (RCG), the Science and Technical Advice Cell (STAC), and the Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG)

On request we will attend RCG, STAC and SCG.

If the above number is busy please call the Defra Duty Room on 0345 051 8486.

Our role

We’re guided by the GDS Remit 2017 (PDF, 117KB, 2 pages) and are responsible for:

  • providing advice, guidance and assistance on decontamination to responsible authorities in their contingency planning for, and response to, CBRN and HazMat incidents
  • maintaining and building the GDS framework of specialist providers and ensuring that responsible authorities have access to these services
  • advising central government on the national capability for the decontamination of buildings, infrastructure, transport and open environment

Who we are

There are 27 members of GDS staff based at MOD Stafford. Besides our regular office staff, GDS has an on-call team 24/7, 365 days a year, ready to provide advice and guidance following a CBRN or major HazMat incident.

Our priorities

Our priorities for 2016 to 2017 are to:

  • set up an assurance programme for the GDS framework of specialist providers
  • assess gaps in knowledge and commission research
  • contribute to the the Cabinet Office’s national risk assessment programme
  • contribute to the science and technology programme of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy
  • contribute to Defra’s CBRN programme of work
  • take part in the UK’s national and regional preparedness activities

Useful guides

We have published a detailed guide for contracting authorities who need to find approved specialist providers for decontamination services in relation to a CBRN or major HazMat incidents.

Documents in current use include:



Telephone: +44 (0) 300 1000 315

Fax: +44 (0) 1785 21 6363

UK Government Decontamination Service
MOD Stafford
ST18 0AQ