Physical security


Securely transporting sensitive items

To protect sensitive items, follow the four stages of secure transportation.

The tasks for securely transporting sensitive items fall into four broad stages:

  • assessing the risks
  • planning security before you move the item
  • managing security during the move
  • confirming the item has arrived safely and wrapping up the transport process.  

1. Assessing the risks

Sensitive items can be transported in several ways. For example, when people in your organisation:

  • carry items with them (by hand or in a bag)
  • work remotely or abroad (for example, from home or a hotel)
  • transport items in a vehicle.

Understand the threats you need to manage

Whichever way an item is transported, many potential threats exist. For example, an item could be:

  • accidentally lost or damaged
  • stolen by an opportunistic thief
  • abandoned because of an emergency
  • taken from a hijacked or stolen vehicle
  • attacked by someone inside your organisation
  • targeted through espionage.

Carry out a risk assessment

Use a risk assessment to help you understand:

  • the value of the item you need to transport
  • the business impact on your organisation if the item was lost or damaged
  • the likely threats to the item during transport.

Based on your assessment, consider which security measures will achieve the best balance between robust security and operational effectiveness.

2. Planning security for the item

To plan effectively, answer the following questions.

What is the nature of the item?

Describe the item’s size, purpose, value, and any significant features that might affect how it is transported.

If the item has a security classification with associated security requirements, ensure you include those requirements in your plan.

Who is involved?

Identify everyone involved in the transport process and what they are responsible for.

Will the process involve getting sign-off from a manager, liaising with a courier, or arranging an escort? Who will receive the item when it’s delivered?

How and when will the item be moved?

Describe how and when the item will be moved.  

What mode of transport will be used? Which routes will be involved? Are there any waypoints to consider? What is the destination?

When is the move happening? Does the intended date and time pose any risks? Consider things like traffic volumes, predicted weather, and major events.

What are the likely risks to the item?

Based on your risk assessment, consider risks from the local environment and the planned route.

What is security like at the sites the item is moving from and to? What is the terrain like on the planned route? Is traffic a concern? Will border security be involved?

Which security measures will best protect the item?

Detail the security measures you’ll use. Ensure the measures are proportionate to the risks you identified in your assessment, and enable everyone involved to effectively manage the transport process.

What are your contingency plans?

If the item is compromised, how will you respond to and manage the situation? Do you have alternative transport plans?

Does everyone involved know what to do?

Make sure you provide the right training and task-specific briefings to the relevant people. They must know how to protect the item and what to do if anything goes wrong.

3. Managing the item’s security during travel

Keep the following practices in mind when you’re managing security while items are being moved.

Maintain awareness

Scan your surroundings and be alert to potential threats, especially when escorting others.

Keep a low profile

Be discreet. This practice includes the people involved being discreet and the equipment you use to protect an item being discreet.

Communicate as planned

Be prepared to provide status updates as planned or to call for assistance when you need to.

Check your physical security solutions

Ensure security solutions are working as intended. For example, solutions designed to mitigate threats such as opportunist theft, forced entry, or covert attempts to gain unauthorised access.

4. Confirming the item’s safe arrival and wrapping up the process

Once an item has been transported, you need to:

  • check the item has arrived intact and hasn’t been compromised
  • confirm its delivery with the recipient or owner (for example, with a receipt)

You also need to:

  • assess the entire procedure to find out if it was carried out safely (or at least risk-managed)
  • record details of the transfer for auditing purposes.

Page last modified: 14/11/2022