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HMRC internal manual

Tobacco Products Duty

Security: physical and financial: Search of persons

While officers have wide powers (see section TPD4040) to search vehicles entering or leaving premises, which include a registered factory or store, they are not entitled to search persons (who are, for example, entering or leaving a registered area) except by consent or where personal search is justified following a lawful arrest.

Physical security can, however, only be effective if everyone leaving a manufacturer’s factory is liable to be searched at unpredictable intervals. To achieve this aim it is necessary that all company personnel, whatever their status, and any others who have access to the site (eg contractors and refuse collectors) contract with the site occupier to submit themselves and their vehicles to random search by security staff. The security staff should maintain a record of those searches. This is important in the case of registered factories where access to tobacco product is relatively easy and losses more difficult to detect than in registered stores.

Search of person practices in registered stores vary according to the manufacturer and the location of the site. Product is less accessible than in a factory and any losses should show up in the store records. Provided that the records are satisfactory and you are generally satisfied with the trader’s systems, any personal search procedures are a matter for local agreement with the trader.

If you consider or are involved in conducting a search of person, you should follow the guidance contained in the LE Handbook.