Last reviewed 18 July 2012

In this article, our consultant editor on the transport of dangerous goods issues, Desmond Waight, who has spent three days out with the police at their dangerous goods checks, describes how police officers go about enforcing the requirements for the carriage of dangerous goods.


Under the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Transportable Pressure Receptacles Regulations 2009 (SI 2009 No 1345) as amended (CDG2009), there are five different enforcing authorities with responsibility for the road carriage of dangerous goods. One of these five is the police, via the chief officer of police of each area (except for security provisions).

Nationally, the police forces come together with representatives from the Department for Transport (DfT), the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in the National Carriage of Dangerous Goods Practitioners Forum. One of the aspects covered in this forum is the setting up of four nationally designated dangerous goods inspection days each year. Outside speakers, including from industry, may also be invited to the forum as appropriate.

The most recent of these national inspection days was held on 21 June 2012. One of the inspection points that day was on the southbound A34 at the Sutton Scotney services, which was run by the Hampshire police in conjunction with the Thames Valley police. Also in attendance were officers from VOSA (regarding vehicle safety issues) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (regarding fuel issues). The police officers who carry out these inspections have all received training in the transport of dangerous goods, and the lead officer is a currently qualified Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) (all classes by road).

In addition to these nationally designated days, the police may carry out additional control checks on the carriage of dangerous goods at any time. Any policeman may carry out checks, but only officers who have been properly trained and authorised, by the Chief Constable, may issue Prohibition Notices (PNs).

How the checks are organised

At a briefing before the operation starts, the officers involved in identifying vehicles to be inspected are advised of the criteria to be applied. This is done on a risk basis and is also based on any intelligence concerning particular carriers, or types of carriage, of concern that may be available.

Police cars and motorcyclists are then sent out into the local area and proceed to identify appropriate vehicles for checking, which are then pulled over into the service area.

When stopped for inspection, the police officers go through a series of checks specified on a special form for the purpose: Form 10 500.


Although there is no positive proof of this, it is believed the form is numbered this way because when it was first introduced in the 1990s, the European agreement on the international carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR) was structured using numbers printed in the margins to identify a particular paragraph or section, and section 10 500 dealt with marking and labelling (or “placarding”, as we would now say) of vehicles carrying dangerous goods.

The 10 500 form

This standard form used by all police forces is used as the basis for checks. It records:

  • the name and number of the officer(s) carrying out the check

  • the time, date and location of the inspection

  • details of the vehicle, including the tank test date if applicable

  • type of vehicles (tanker/tank container/packaged/bulk/IBC) and whether loaded/nominally empty/empty packages/empty and purged/freight container

  • driver’s details, including whether a photo ID is carried

  • ADR driver training certification details, including date of expiry, if applicable

  • the journey details

  • the vehicle operator’s details, including licence

  • consignor's name and address

  • consignee’s name and address

  • details of the dangerous goods carried (UN number/Proper Shipping Name (PSN) /Class/packing group (if applicable)/transport category/number, and size of receptacles (if applicable)

  • details of vehicle marks and placards (called “labels” on the form), which include:

    • whether orange plates are displayed

    • whether labels (placards) are displayed

    • whether the UN number is displayed (on tankers and bulk)

    • whether the HIN number or EAC is displayed

    • which placard is displayed

    • whether an emergency telephone number is shown (tanks/tank containers only, and for UK domestic only)

    • whether the orange plates and placards are clean and unobstructed

    • whether the orange plates and placards are consistent with the load

    • whether the markings are for UK domestic road or ADR or IMDG

    • whether the marks and labels are compliant

  • whether the correct Instructions in Writing (IiW) are carried, if applicable

  • whether there is a transport document and, if so, whether it is compliant

  • which items of mandatory equipment are being carried

  • whether the correct extinguishers (number and sizes) are carried, and whether sealed and within correct pressure range, and the date of the next service

  • any observations that the inspecting officer feels appropriate

  • whether the inspection results in:

    • a prohibition notice (re the “hazmat”, ie dangerous goods)

    • a report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (eg recommending prosecution or other HSE action)

    • the giving of advice in respect of any non-compliance found.

A copy of the completed form is given to the driver, in case, for example, they are unfortunate enough to be stopped by another police force for another inspection later in the journey.

Decisions on the issue of enforcement notices, either an immediate or delayed PN, are taken using the established HSE matrix. A copy of the PN and Form 10 500 is also sent to the operator.

Where no prohibition, but observations and advice, are given to the driver, the police normally advise the operator by phone, often from the roadside, so that the operations manager can liaise with the driver on his/her return in order to put things right. The main aim for this is education, in order to ensure future full compliance by those concerned, as the issues found are not always within the control of the driver.

The inspections

These necessarily take an amount of time to complete, sometimes quite a considerable time if issues are found. Occasionally, the driver will have to wait until the previous checks on earlier vehicles have been completed. However, every attempt is made to minimise any delays for the drivers. In interviews, drivers generally accept it is appropriate that on occasions they may be asked to stop for an inspection.

There follow descriptions of issues found in some of the checks undertaken on 21 June.

Check 1

The first vehicle stopped caused of a lot of interest, for a number of reasons. The fact that it also contained 18 guided missiles (Class 1) certainly had something to do with it! However, the hinged rear ADR orange plate was a matter of some discussion, as one of the two hinges had snapped apart. The question was whether this constituted a breach of ADR, which says: “When the orange-coloured plate is affixed to folding panels, they shall be designed and secured so they cannot unfold or become loose from the holder during carriage (especially as a result of impacts or unintentional actions).”

The issue of ensuring that folding orange plates do remain folded when not in use is something that the police are interested in, since the unnecessary display of an orange plate may interfere with emergency actions should a vehicle, not carrying a significant load of dangerous goods, be involved in an incident.

In a previous inspection last November, the use of a bulldog clip to hold the hinge plate in the folded position was not deemed to have met the requirements, and resulted in a delayed PN (requiring correction before use). However, in this case the failure would not necessarily have infringed, nor was any indication that in the case of an incident or accident the lower half of the folding panel would come away. Accordingly, the police made an observation on the 10 500 form advising that this orange plate be repaired or renewed.

It is worthwhile recording here that in an earlier inspection, the decision to pull a vehicle over for inspection was based on the observation that the rear orange coloured plate was displayed in a portrait rather than a landscape mode, suggesting a lack of compliance. When stopped, it was then determined that the vehicle did not carry dangerous goods at all, and that the plate was visible simply because of a failure of the mechanism (ie a breach of

However, since the vehicle had been stopped other routine checks were carried out. One of these checks concerned the tachograph records. This showed that the tachograph recording disc had been put in upside down, totally accidentally according to the driver, and was therefore not recording the driver’s hours.

On further checking the other tachograph records, it became clear to the officer that the driver should not have been driving, which attracted a fixed penalty of £60 plus a PN requiring that the vehicle not be moved for another nine hours.

Consequently its load, of orange juice, was going to be delivered one day late.


Carriers and their drivers should ensure that the orange plates, and any retention devices which ensure that foldable plates can remain folded or that slide-in plates remain in place, are always in good condition.

Checks 2 and 3

These vehicles from two different operators were carrying hazardous waste for disposal by incineration.

A number of detailed deficiencies were noted. One of the most common deficiencies was the obliteration of the UN package mark, either from spilled product (which, if dangerous goods residue, would be in breach of ADR or from paints used to obscure previous product drum marking, or the application of labels (in this case CHIP supply labels) over the UN package approval marks on the drums (thus contravening ADR See Figure 1. CHIP is the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009 No 716) (CHIP4).

Figure 1: UN package approval mark obscured by paint or product

Other packages, though marked as carrying dangerous goods in fully regulated packages/intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), did not show any UN approval mark at all, indicating a probable breach of ADR, which requires packages to conform to a successfully tested design type, and of, which requires a “durable, legible … and readily visible” UN package mark. Other failures to comply with ADR Chapter 4.1 general packaging provisions were suspected, but could not be checked at the roadside.

One of the vehicles was carrying liquid (dangerous goods) wastes in IBCs, and in several occasions the secondary closure as required by ADR was missing. This contravenes ADR See Figure 2.

Figure 2: Missing secondary closure on liquid-carrying IBC

One IBC also had a home-made extra connection sticking out at the side, just above the base, which would have only taken a small blow to cause failure and the loss of the 1000 litres of dangerous goods waste, clearly contravening ADR If this had occurred, the goods would have leaked out of the vehicle onto the road, to be sprayed onto passing traffic. See Figure 3.

Figure 3: IBC with added pipework liable to cause loss of dangerous goods

Furthermore, on these two vehicles there were a number of packaging, labelling and marking issues, such as simply missing out the letters "UN" before the display of the UN number, although the display size was admittedly very good. There were also some documentation errors.

Since these vehicles had only a short distance to go to the final disposal point, the officer in charge chose to let them proceed to that destination, as the safest and most reasonably practicable option, but a number of observations were given on the 10 500 form, and by telephone, for the operators to take note of in respect of future shipments.


Packages containing waste that is dangerous goods for transport, as well as hazardous goods under the waste disposal provisions, should not be accepted for transport unless they are free of residues, and clearly display the UN marks, numbers and labels to the same sort standard as containers of new product going for sale.

Check 4

This transport unit was carrying a freight container loaded with some hundred thousand plus aerosols (UN 1950) in limited quantity packages. The freight container was being taken to the docks for onward transport by sea.

What probably caused the officer to pull this unit over for checking was the presence of orange plates to front and rear. The driver was unaware that these are prohibited under ADR, as the load did not include any fully regulated goods. The same problem had been noted with a transport unit after the November 2011 inspections.


Training of drivers regarding the new LQ marking provisions needs to be periodically “refreshed”.

Check 5

A vehicle carrying clinical waste of Class 6.2 in bulk and packages was stopped. This vehicle and driver had previously been subject to inspection in November 2011, at which time a number of concerns had been raised.

Sadly, few of the deficiencies noted back in November 2011 had been addressed, though ample observations over the deficiencies had been noted at the time, and there were a number of further deficiencies noted this time around.

Since non-compliance with the carriage of infectious substances in bulk is of significant concern to the authorities, a further report to the HSE will be made by the police, and follow-up action with the company concerned will take place.

  • If carrying infectious substances in bulk ensure that you get good advice from your DGSA. The DGSA may also need to seek advice, eg via the British Association of Dangerous Goods Professionals (BADGP) forum, and by checking the HSE Dangerous Goods Manual, as well as ADR itself.

  • If your driver gets advice from a roadside check, take it seriously and remedy the problems identified. The police will look to inspect again in future and will expect the needed improvements to have been made.


The police are trying to enforce the regulations, with the aim of ensuring safety and that no operator gains an unfair competitive advantage through non-compliance. They do so in a professional and courteous manner and try and minimise the delays to those inspected, except where such a delay is clearly justifiable in view of the non-compliance discovered.

Details of prohibitions issued as a result of these national inspection days will appear, in due time, on the HSE website.