New laws, in force from 1 October 2023 will make a number of amendments to the regime governing regulated and reportable substances under the Poisons Act 1972.

The purpose of the amendments is to strengthen existing safeguards that are in place to prevent the illicit use of certain explosives precursors and poisons to cause harm. These amendments were identified following a detailed review of the legislation relating to controls of explosives precursors and poisons following the Manchester Arena and Parsons Green explosives attacks in 2017.

Following the Manchester Arena attack in 2017, an Operational Improvement Review was announced by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Director General of MI5.

This was designed to identify and take forward improvements to processes and capabilities for managing terrorism investigations. Lord Anderson was commissioned to deliver a stocktake, which made three broad recommendations concerning Exploiting Data; Multi-Agency Engagement; and Domestic Extremism.

The recommendations outlined in the review led to a review of the policy relating to explosives precursors and poisons, where a number of key legislative gaps were identified. Policy proposals were considered based on this evidence and scientific evidence surrounding the risk posed by specific chemical substances, resulting in a public consultation which ran from 16th December 2021 – 10th March 2022.

Summary of the changes

• Businesses selling reportable and regulated substances to other businesses must inform them that the substance in question is subject to regulation under the 1972 Act.
• Businesses supplying regulated explosives precursors to other businesses must obtain and record certain information about the identity of the business customer and the nature of the customer’s business. The supplier must also be satisfied that the regulated precursor is being obtained for a purpose reasonably connected with the business. This information should be recorded and stored for 18 months.
• Businesses who make supplies of regulated or reportable substances as part of their business, and who engage workers to assist in making such supplies, must ensure that the workers are provided with relevant information about the requirements that apply in relation to such substances.
• Operators of online marketplaces must have proportionate procedures in place to provide their users who use the online marketplace to supply regulated or reportable substances, with information about the requirements surrounding the supply of such substances. The operator must also report any suspicious activity relating to the same of regulated or reportable substances by those using the online marketplace.
• All suspicious activity reporting under section 3C must be made within 24 hours of forming the belief that a transaction is suspicious, or within 24 hours of a significant theft or loss of reportable or regulated substances being detected.
• All suspicious activity reports must be made via the electronic reporting service or by telephone.
• When making a suspicious activity report, businesses (including online marketplaces) must provide all information that they hold which is likely to be useful in identifying the individual involved in the suspicious transaction).

Failure to comply with the requirements imposed by the new regulations is a criminal offence (see section 7(4) of the 1972 Act).

Our crime and regulatory lawyers are fully versed in the new requirements and can assist any business needing advice as to their legal obligations in this area.


How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence specialists on: 01376 511819