Policy & Compliance

Dogs to provide increased UK options for screening cargo

For Members handling certain cargoes that are difficult to make ‘known’ via hand search or X-ray techniques, the availability of this additional primary screening method will be particularly beneficial

Since the inception of the Aviation Security regime, one area that has caused UK agents considerable issues is the screening of cargo that is too large or dense to be X-rayed. Some will remember that dogs had been used in the Remote Air Sampling for Canine Olfaction (RASCO) method, which was prohibited by the Department for Transport in June 2014. Since then there has been discussion

regarding the use of Free Running Explosive Detection Dogs (FREDD). The European Commission has approved the method as an acceptable primary method of screening aviation cargo for the presence of explosives and it is utilised by several EU countries as a method of screening cargo.

Government certification BIFA has noted reports that Wagtail UK has successfully achieved government certification to provide an explosive detection dog service for the UK air cargo industry. The standards set in the UK are particularly high, hence the delay in implementing the use of dogs here. The training of both the dogs and their handlers in the UK has been described as “rigorous” and there are strict operating protocols in place regarding working and rest periods. The air cargo sector continues to be a primary

target for terrorists. With millions of pounds of essential and time-sensitive cargo transported globally each day, and given the threat of a terrorist attack using some form of explosive device, security vigilance is a constant priority throughout the industry. Using their sense of smell, explosive detection

dogs have a unique ability to sniff out odours in parts-per-trillion. The dogs work in close partnership with their human handlers and are


trained to check freight for a range of explosive materials. Dogs also smell in layers, which allows them to recognise an individual explosive ingredient even when that explosive is masked by other odours. Dogs are able to move around the cargo to conduct the search without interfering with the sort process or freight environment. Now that certification has been attained,

Wagtail will provide a FREDD service to be used alongside existing cargo screening methods, offering a rapid and effective way of screening large volumes of air cargo, reinforcing the UK’s aviation security. Wagtail’s first dog to successfully achieve

government certification, Ben, underwent over 12 months of rigorous training before being

deployed in the cargo sheds. Wagtail has seven other dogs undergoing training, but coronavirus has delayed their final deployment. Each dog’s service performance will be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure that it remains compliant with the required standards.

Particular benefits For Members handling certain cargoes that are difficult to make ‘known’ via hand search or X- ray techniques, the availability of this additional primary screening method will be particularly beneficial. We have seen too much freight shipped to the near Continent to be screened and made ‘known’, and then flown out of Europe. It is now more likely that the same cargo can be screened and flown directly from the UK.

July 2020

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