Policy paper

2010 to 2015 government policy: transport security

Updated 8 May 2015

This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/managing-the-risk-to-transport-networks-from-terrorism-and-other-crimes. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.


The government needs to protect people and transport infrastructure while allowing transport systems to operate efficiently and effectively. We do this by managing the risk of terrorist attack on our transport systems.


We aim to provide effective, risk-based and proportionate security on our transport systems, including:


The Department for Transport’s work to manage the risk to transport networks is part of a wider government counter-terrorism strategy. In July 2011, the government issued the latest version of its counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST.

To shape this policy, we used economic and statistical analysis, appraisal, evaluation, modelling and research.

Bills and legislation

The main laws relating to transport security are:

The EU created a set of common rules for aviation security using Regulation (EC) No 300/2008.

The EU also has a set of common rules on enhancing ship and port facility security, contained in Regulation (EC) No 725/2004.

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) sets out maritime security standards, established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). These standards are enforced through the Ship and Port Security Regulations (2004).

Who we’ve consulted

In 2010, we ran a public consultation about the use of body scanners at airports after an attempted terrorist attack on a flight from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on 25 December 2009.

In July 2011, we ran a consultation with airports and airlines on ways to modernise how we regulate aviation security.

Who we’re working with

We work closely with transport operators, police, security and other organisations in the UK. We also work with European and international organisations, including the European Commission, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

In August 2012, we worked with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and the British Transport Police (BTP) to produce guidance on security in the design of railway stations.

The principles behind how the Department for Transport works with the transport industry in order to support the delivery of good security outcomes are set out in the compliance framework.

Appendix 1: personnel security

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The following links give guidance on personnel security in the transport sector, including national security vetting, risk assessments, recruitment, criminal record checks and ongoing personnel security.

National security vetting

Criminal record checks

Appendix 2: land transport security

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The government is responsible for managing the risks to passengers and staff on the national rail network, underground and light rail systems, bus and coach networks, and on services using the Channel Tunnel. We do this by regulating and providing guidance to transport operators and services and other relevant organisations.

In August 2012, we published a guide on security in station design.

In August 2012 we produced guidance on bus and coach security best practice for operators of buses and coaches, bus stations and depots. You can also order a bus and coach security DVD.

In January 2010, we produced a guide for potential new rail passenger operators through the Channel Tunnel.

We also provide guidance on the security of dangerous goods by road and rail

Appendix 3: aviation security

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

The government is responsible for managing the risks to passengers, workers and cargo in airports and during transit.

We’re developing an integrated approach for aviation and border security involving the Home Office, the Department for Transport and UK Visas and Immigration. This will help us to co-ordinate systems and processes more effectively across the range of organisations involved in aviation and border security checks.

We are proposing to move to an outcome focused risk based (OFRB) approach to aviation security. This would give operators the flexibility and responsibility to design security processes. We would introduce a security management system (SeMS) to manage this approach.

Our consultation in July 2011 proposed that the new arrangements should be phased in over 3 years, starting in April 2013.

Security training for the aviation industry

We continue to run mandatory training courses for the aviation industry through:

We require a basic criminal record check for certain roles within the aviation industry.

Security scanners

We’re making changes to pre-departure checks so we can more effectively identify people who pose a terrorist threat and prevent them from flying to or from the UK.

In November 2011, we published the final security scanners code of practice for airports to use. It states that passengers will not be selected to be scanned on the basis of ethnic origin, gender, or destination of travel.

Air cargo

Air cargo originating in the UK must be subject to security checks to ensure that it does not contain prohibited articles such as explosives or anything capable of causing fire. The cargo can be screened using a number of different techniques by a regulated agent or by a known consignor.

We have a list of regulated agents and suppliers and application forms if you wish to be a regulated agent or supplier.

We have information for air carriers wishing to bring cargo or mail into the EU from a third country: ACC3: request for declaration of commitments

We are accepting applications for pre-certification for European Union independent validator status.

Appendix 4: developing an evidence based transport security policy

This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.

To ensure that transport systems are effective, transport decisions and policies made by government are informed by economic and statistical analysis, appraisal, evaluation, modelling, and research.

To provide the best evidence base for planning transport policies and schemes, mathematical models are used to analyse complex transport patterns.

Research reports

Further information