The HOTS Procedure

Suspicious Items Protocol

This page is to provide you with information/a refresher as to the process and procedure to carry out if you ever come across a suspect items while at work, this information is for guidance only and it is to be used in conjunction with any client, venue or event suspicious or unattended item procedure.

We fully understand that when faced with a report of a suspect item, that the public must feel uneasy about a situation, item or a person, or they wouldn’t have brought it to your attention. Any person that reports such an incident to you should be treated with respect, and consideration and not to dismissed out of hand. In the same vain, if a person is the main aspect/subject of the report then that person whom a report has been made about should also be treated as innocent until proven otherwise.

Not everyone is a terrorist, and not every suspect package is an explosive device. But what if it one day they are and that bag is your worst possible nightmare.

What the public expect from you as a security operative or event steward is to be professional in your approach and to deal with the report seriously and professionally.

By following this H-O-T Protocol you are working to a tried and tested process used by many official UK government bodies in this type of situation.

H-O-T Protocol/Procedure for Suspicious or Unattended Items

Suspicious items – Guidance for staff

Always Consider Your Own Safety First!

Always Follow the Venue/Client Process or Procedure!

When dealing with suspicious items apply the 4 C’s protocol:


Whether or not the item exhibits recognisably suspicious characteristics

Get CCTV observation if possible

Report the incident to control or your supervisor straight away

The HOT protocol/Procedure may be used to inform your judgment, so ask yourself:

Is it hidden?

Has the item deliberately concealed or is it obviously hidden from view?

Is it OBVIOUSLY suspicious?

Does it have wires, circuit boards, batteries, tape, liquids or putty-like substances visible?

Do you think the item poses an immediate threat to life?


Is the item typical of what you would expect to find in this location?

Most lost property is found in locations where people congregate. Ask if anyone has left the item

If the item is assessed to be unattended rather than suspicious, examine further before applying lost property procedures

However, if H-O-T leads you to believe the item is suspicious, apply the 4Cs

What to do when you feel the item is suspicious:

Follow the organisations or venues process or procedures first.


CLEAR the immediate area

Do not touch it!

Report your concerns t0 control or your supervisor straight away, if not done so already

Take charge and move people away to safe distance. Even for a small item such as a briefcase move at least 100m away from the item starting from the centre and moving out

Do not use radios or mobile phones at all if possible or at least within 15 metres, always use internal phones where possible

Get CCTV on to area if possible

Keep yourself and other people out of line of sight of the item. It is a broad rule, but generally if you cannot see the item, then you are better protected from it

Think about what you can hide behind. Pick something substantial and keep away from glass such as windows and skylights

Cordon off the area


Inform your control room and/or supervisor

Do not use radios within 15 metres

Call 999 if necessary or if instructed

CONTROL access to the cordoned area

Members of the public should not be able to approach the area until it is deemed safe

Try and keep eyewitnesses on hand so they can tell police what they  saw

Taken for UK Government Guidance that can be found at:—guidance-for-staff

HOT Protocol / Procedure for Suspicious or Unattended Items Video

HOT Protocol | HOT Procedure | Suspicious Items Procedure | Suspect Packages Procedure

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