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New Measures Targeting Bomb-Making Materials Come Into Force

Stronger restrictions on poisons and explosive substances came into effect on 1 October 2023

New Measures Targeting Bomb-Making Materials Come Into Force
New Measures Targeting Bomb-Making Materials Come Into Force

New restrictions on poisons and explosive substances have come into effect from Sunday 1 October, strengthening existing controls for poisons and chemicals which could be used to make explosives.

Under these changes, there will be stricter requirements for reporting suspicious activity, including new obligations for online marketplaces. Customer information, such as photo identification, will be recorded when selling regulated materials to business users.

Additional substances have also been added to the list of regulated poisons, including 2,4 Dinitrophenol, also known as DNP, which has taken the lives of many young people in the UK.

Other substances to be added include zinc phosphide and hexamine, often used in fireworks.

This will mean it will be a criminal offence to sell these substances to members of the public without a valid licence.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said:

The deaths of dozens of young people at the hands of criminals selling chemicals like DNP is a tragedy.
These new measures will help prevent dangerous controlled substances from falling into the wrong hands.

These measures come on the back of the devastating Manchester Arena attack in 2017, and the government’s commitment to look at whether current laws went far enough to protect the public.

The changes will come into force through the updates to the Poisons Act 1972.

Food Standards Agency (FSA) Head of National Food Crime Unit Andrew Quinn said:

DNP can, and does, kill. This is why we strongly support the Home Office on the reclassification of DNP as a poison as well as the police on tackling criminals who supply this killer chemical.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Products Advisor Adrian Simpson said:

Retailers play an important part in spotting any suspicious activity from customers when buying particular chemical products, and will take additional steps to verify legitimacy of a purchase through more thorough ID checks.
We welcome these new strengthened measures – retailers are vital in protecting the public by ensuring that all changes are clearly communicated to their customers. They will provide additional information online to explain the risks associated with certain products.

The government continues to regularly work with online marketplaces to ensure that they are aware of the harms of chemicals and poisons and can identify and take down potentially unlawful listings as quickly as possible.

The Poisons Act 1972 already sets out controls of chemicals which can be used to make explosives and poisons, restricting the general public’s access to the most dangerous materials. It permits a licensing regime for the purchase and use of regulated substances where there is a legitimate need and no safer alternative.

Newly reportable explosives precursors:

  • Sulfur

Newly reportable poisons:

  • Metal sulfides and polysulfides

  • Metal phosphides

  • Sodium hypochlorite solutions (above 6% available Cl).

Newly regulated precursors:

  • Hexamine

  • Hydrochloric acid (over 10% w/w)

  • Phosphoric acid (over 30% w/w)

  • Ammonium nitrate (over 16% N)

Newly regulated poisons:

  • Aluminium sulfide

  • Sodium sulfide

  • Calcium sulfide

  • Magnesium sulfide

  • Calcium phosphide

  • Zinc phosphide

  • Arsenic compounds

  • Mercury compounds

  • 2,4- dinitrophenol (DNP) and compounds including sodium dinitrophenolate


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