As a chemical manufacturing company, ReAgent often receives requests from interesting and high-profile customers that require a very specific service or product. We love supplying chemicals for such a varied range of purposes and we were intrigued when we were called upon to assist with a police training course, which would educate police officers on the use of chemicals for homemade explosives, in what potentially could be acts of terrorism.
Chemistry is fascinating and is literally all around us, but it’s crucial that we conduct thorough checks before selling chemicals, as they can be deadly if they end up in the wrong hands.
In this post:
Request from the Police College
Around the beginning of March 2014, we were approached with a request via our website from the Police National Search Centre, College of Policing, Bramshill. The Sergeant that contacted us was from the Search Training Intelligence Research Cell and put in an order for a number of chemical containers that would be used for counter terrorism training at the College.
College of Policing
Bramshill’s College of Policing is an establishment that trains police officers and police staff to gain the skills they need to progress, so they can be confident in tackling crimes and protecting the public. The College is also a way to raise the professional status of members of the police, so they are able to gain greater recognition for their expertise and the work they do.
The Police National Search Centre at the College of Policing (PNSC) is a joint police and military force. It provides counter terrorism training and is internationally recognised as the world leader in the development and training of counter terrorism systematic search techniques. The College’s website explains how the PNSC aims to equip students so they’re able to:
- Obtain evidence for prosecutions
- Gain intelligence
- Assist in countering terrorism
- Tackle criminality, by depriving criminals of their resources and opportunities
- Locate vulnerable missing people
- Protect potential targets and key events
It’s clear that the College of Policing plays a key role in the protection of civilians against acts of terrorism and that the training it provides is necessary for the police and military forces to be equipped to help to tackle terrorists. Because of this, ReAgent was more than happy to comply with their request free of charge.
Lessons in Homemade Explosives (HME)
Staff at the training establishment contacted us because they wanted to purchase some chemical containers (these were to be empty, the actual chemicals weren’t required). The containers had to be appropriately labelled and were to be used for lessons at the College in homemade explosives, so Police Officers would have an up-to-date knowledge of the use of chemicals in terrorism.
We label all of our products according to strict conformities set by GHS (Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals). Every label has to contain hazard information and chemical symbols, as well as advice about the protective measures that need to be put in place for the handling of each product. We made sure each empty container was appropriately labelled to our usual standard so they were as accurate and realistic as possible. The containers assisted in the delivery of specialist search training for UK Policing.
For this purpose, containers were requested to mimic the following chemicals:
- Acetic Acid
- Brick Acid
- Citric Acid
- Hydrochloric Acid
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Nitric Acid
- Sulphuric Acid
As well as being educated in how chemicals can be used to formulate dangerous explosives, some members of the police will also receive guidance on how to approach CBRN terrorist attacks (Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear material) and it’s vital they understand indicators of certain chemicals and know the best way to handle a CBRN attack. A lack of knowledge in this area could lead to unnecessary risk to the responder or to members of the public nearby.
Measures we take against the use of Chemicals for Dangerous Acts
At ReAgent it’s important that we carefully consider each and every sale we make, and don’t haphazardly sell chemicals to just anyone. An extra change we’ve made lately is that we’ve stopped selling to individuals, and now only businesses can purchase chemicals from us. We have a responsibility to the general public that we will take all of the necessary steps to reduce the risk of danger, so there are precautionary measures we take whenever we sell certain chemicals or combinations of chemicals.
Explosives can be made from everyday products and it can sometimes be too easy for people to purchase chemicals with the intent of using them illegally. At ReAgent, we try to tackle this issue by performing rigid checks before a sale. Certain chemicals have certificates to say the customer has to fill out a declaration form before they can be purchased – these range from methylated spirits through to items on the drug precursor list.
We refrain completely from selling chemicals to individual members of the public and act with caution when providing companies with certain chemicals, such as Chloroform. Although not a controlled product, this can be dangerous in the wrong hands as it can be used to burn rubber to make things pop (such as a tyre) or even to knock somebody unconscious. As well as exercising control when we’re asked for a potentially dangerous mix of chemicals, we carry out postcode checks on the customer. If we’re concerned that a customer may use the chemicals for an illegal purpose, we make sure to check where the premises are. If the delivery is for a home address, we don’t supply to that customer.
Chemicals can also be used in the manufacture of illicit drugs which are ironically marked with a smiley face symbol. Often though, drugs illegally manufactured at home do not contain the correct packaging or labelling, which is a further reason counter terrorism training through chemical awareness is crucial.
It’s great that ReAgent was given the opportunity to help out with counter terrorism training by providing the necessary empty chemical containers, to assist with making police officers and police staff more aware of the ill-use of chemicals. Chemicals are useful for a variety of flourishing industries such as the pharmaceutical and automobile, but unfortunately can also be used for the wrong reasons. At ReAgent, we continuously aim to do everything we can to prevent the illegal use of chemicals.
All content published on the ReAgent.ie blog is for information only. The blog, its authors, and affiliates cannot be held responsible for any accident, injury or damage caused in part or directly from using the information provided. Additionally, we do not recommend using any chemical without reading the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which can be obtained from the manufacturer. You should also follow any safety advice and precautions listed on the product label. If you have health and safety related questions, visit HSE.gov.uk.