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HMRC internal manual

Oils Technical Manual

Sampling: drawing and retention of samples

Drawing of samples

The officer is to draw the sample in the presence of the trader or a responsible employee who may also take a sample from the same bulk as the official sample. If practical, the oil is to be thoroughly mixed before sampling. If the oil cannot be mixed, 3 equal portions from different parts of the oil are to be drawn and mixed before the sample is taken from the mixture.

Samples are normally to be taken in duplicate and put into 250 ml tins. One sample is to be forwarded to Eurofins (formerly LGC).

Samples of composite goods

An unopened original container is, whenever practical, to be forwarded to Eurofins, if the goods are in small or medium sized packages.

Sampling when an offence is suspected

Samples taken when an offence is suspected (e.g. incorrect marking) must be drawn strictly in accordance with Schedule 5 of HODA. Unless these provisions are strictly complied with the evidence afforded by the expert examination of the sample may be inadmissible in proceedings.

The owner or person in charge of the vehicle, or the occupier of the premises, as the case may be, must be present or have been given the opportunity to be present when the sample is drawn.

Instruments and containers used in taking the samples must be clean. The officer is to draw a quantity sufficient to fill three 250 ml sampling tins. These must be labelled and secured by wire and plomb immediately.

A choice of one of the labelled tins is to be offered to the owner or person in charge of the vehicle or the occupier of the premises for retention. If not present a written notification is to be sent stating that a sample is available for collection if required.

One of the remaining samples is to be forwarded to Eurofins. The test note is to be clearly marked in red “Suspect” together with a reference to the appropriate part and paragraph of the instructions and the plumbing iron number. On receipt of the samples, Eurofins will examine the wire and plomb and certify their condition on the test note.

Sampling in road fuel offence cases by RFTOs

The procedure above is not to be applied to samples drawn in road fuel offence cases by Road Fuel Testing Officers (RFTOs), who are to follow the directions on sampling given in the FIS Handbook and are to use the special sample cans, test notes and labels provided for RFTU purposes.

Duplicate samples

The duplicates of samples forwarded to Eurofins are to be kept under lock in official custody. If the samples are of light petroleum oil and likely to exceed 10 litres at any one time they must be stored on premises for which a petroleum spirit licence has been granted under the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 or the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act (Northern Ireland) 1929.

Period of retention

Routine duplicate samples are to be retained only until the result of the test is received. Samples taken when an offence is suspected are to be retained until directions for their disposal are received.

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In the absence of any other instructions, duplicate samples due for disposal are to be returned to the trader. If the trader refuses to accept them, the Officer is to ensure that the samples are destroyed in accordance with the Control of Pollution Act 1974. Disposal by pouring down the common sewer is strictly prohibited. If an Officer has any doubts with or difficulties about a proposed method of disposal, contact is to be made with the local waste disposal authority to make appropriate arrangements.