Circular 002/2015: Guidance to examining officers on the examination of goods under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000

The Terrorism Act 2000, has been amended by the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.

This publication was withdrawn on

This Home Office circular has been replaced by the new code of practice for examining officers and review officers under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000.

The new code was approved by Parliament on 23 March 2015.



  • broad subject: terrorism and organised crime
  • sub category: terrorism legislation
  • implementation date: 12 February 2015
  • from: Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT)
  • for more information contact: the Schedule 7 Review Team, 020 7035 0653 or 020 7035 5626,
  • addressed to:
    • College of Policing
    • Chief Officers of Police
    • Police and Crime Commissioners


Part 6 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security (CTS) Act 2015 amended Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (‘Schedule 7’) to clarify the legal position relating to where goods may be examined and the examination of goods comprising postal items.

All examining officers need to be aware that the CTS Act 2015 entered into force on 12 February. It amended Schedule 7 and other statutes relating to the exercise of powers under Schedule 7. The statutory Code of Practice for examining officers and review officers under Schedule 7 has undergone public consultation and a revised draft will be subject to affirmative Parliamentary scrutiny, and issued shortly subject to Parliamentary approval.

Until the revised Code of Practice is published, the following guidance is provided for examining officers who exercise Schedule 7 powers to examine goods.

Examination of Goods

The power to examine goods under paragraph 9 of Schedule 7 may be exercised:

  • in respect of goods which have arrived in or about to leave Great Britain or Northern Ireland on a ship, vehicle or train. (See paragraph 9(2)(a) of Schedule 7[1])

  • in respect of goods which have arrived at or are about to leave any place in Great Britain or Northern Ireland on an aircraft (whether the place they have come from or are going to is within or outside Great Britain or Northern Ireland). (See paragraph 9(2)(b) of Schedule 7)

“Goods” is defined non-exhaustively in paragraph 9(3) of Schedule 7 as including (a) property of any description and (b) containers. This definition includes both non-postal and postal items, whether unaccompanied or in the possession of a person.

Purpose and exercise of goods examination power

An examining officer may only examine goods for the purpose of determining whether they have been used in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of “terrorism” as defined in section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The examination must not be undertaken any other purpose.

Examining officers should cease to review, and not copy, information which they have reasonable grounds for believing is subject to legal privilege[2], is excluded material[3] or special procedure material[4]. Examining officers must make every reasonable effort to exercise the power in such a way as to minimise causing embarrassment or offence to the sender or recipient of the goods, or a person carrying the goods, and must not examine goods for longer than is necessary.

Goods examined under paragraph 9 of Schedule 7 may be detained under paragraph 11 of Schedule 7.

Selection Criteria

Selection of goods for examination does not require the examining officer to have grounds to suspect that the goods have been used in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism, but the decision to select goods for examination must not be arbitrary. An examining officer’s decision to select goods for examination must be informed by the threat from terrorism to the United Kingdom and its interests posed by the various terrorist groups, networks and individuals active in, and outside the UK. When deciding whether to select goods for examination, examining officers must take into account considerations that relate to the threat of terrorism, including factors such as, but not exclusively:

  • known and suspected sources of terrorism

  • individuals or groups whose current or past involvement in acts or threats of terrorism is known or suspected, and supporters or sponsors of such activity who are known or suspected

  • any information on the origins and/or location of terrorist groups

  • possible current, emerging and future terrorist activity

  • the means by which the goods have travelled and the route of travel that the goods have taken

  • emerging local trends or patterns of travel through specific ports or in the wider vicinity that may be linked to terrorist activity

  • the physical appearance of the goods


If goods that are selected for examination are unaccompanied, the examining officer must apply a notice to the outside of the goods once the examination has been completed which indicates that the goods have been examined. The notice will identify the police service that has examined the goods, and will give a unique reference number for the examination. This must allow the identification of the examining officer who carried out the examination in the event of a query or complaint. The procedure for making a complaint about the examination of goods is the same as that relating to complaints about the examination of an individual, and is set out in paragraph 82 of the current Code of Practice for examining and review officers under Schedule 7.

After examining small goods, an examining officer will enclose a Goods Information Leaflet with the goods. The Goods Information Leaflet outlines the purpose and provisions of Schedule 7, obligations under Schedule 7 and relevant contact details (including those needed to provide feedback or make a complaint).

Records of examinations

Records of all examinations of goods must be kept for statistical or reference purposes in the event of a complaint. Statistical records must include the date, time and place of the examination, brief details of the item examined, any damage caused during the examination, and the identification number of the examining officer. Records of all examinations will be managed in accordance with police information management and Data Protection principles.

Where examination of goods may take place

Examination of goods may be carried out only:

  • at a port

  • at premises operated by a sea cargo agent or an air cargo agent

  • at a transit shed

  • at a location designated by the Secretary of State

Powers of entry

Examining officers are permitted to:

  • board a ship or aircraft

  • enter a vehicle

  • enter premises operated by a sea cargo agent or an air cargo agent

  • enter a transit shed

  • enter a designated examination location

Wherever possible, reasonable efforts should be made to obtain the permission of the owner or occupier before entering.

[1] The Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) (Amendment) Order 2001 provides that examining officers can exercise Schedule 7 powers: (a) under paragraph 2(3) on an international train; and (b) under paragraph 2(2) at a railway station or other place where persons embark or disembark or where goods are loaded on or from an international train service.

[2] As defined by section 10, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

[3] As defined by section 11, Police and Criminal Evidence act 1984

[4] As defined by section 14, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

Published 11 February 2015