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Abnormal loads

Dated: 08 Apr 2016

POLICY TITLE: Abnormal Loads


AUTHOR: Chief Inspector, Tactical Operations





AIM OF POLICY: To outline the considerations for policing the safe progress of abnormal loads throughout the Force area.

BENEFIT OF POLICY: To provide clarity regarding the responsibilities of the Police in relation to the escorting of abnormal loads and the associated procedures.

REASON FOR POLICY: Northumbria Police recognises its duty under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 to protect life and the need for safe and efficient transport of abnormal indivisible loads by road within the Force area.



The responsibility for the safe management of abnormal loads lies with the haulier and driver, and is regulated by law. The role of Northumbria Police in respect of most abnormal loads is therefore to ensure compliance with the law.

In accordance with an agreement by the haulage industry, the Highways England and the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), that routine escorting of abnormal loads authorised by the 'Special Types General Order' (STGO) will not be carried out by the police but in most cases by the hauliers themselves, Northumbria Police will not escort abnormal loads which are up to 6.1 metres wide, except where no alternative arrangement can adequately ensure public safety.

Subject to hauliers informing the Force Communications Centre 30 minutes before moving a load in or into the Force area, Northumbria Police will waive the requirement for two clear days notice of intended load movements where no planned police involvement or advice is required, in accordance with the provisions of the STGO.

When drivers or hauliers contact Northumbria Police to give 30 minutes notice of movement, the control room will:

  • Create an incident with brief details of the load and route, and provide the driver/haulier with the FWIN (Force Wide Incident Number);
  • Advise the driver/haulier of any known issues on their route within the Northumbria Police area; and
  • If applicable, advise that the Road Traffic Act 1988 applies to such load movements and any attending escort vehicles - in particular driving dangerously, without due care or without due consideration for other road user, and therefore loads should not be moved during peak traffic times (07:30 - 09:00 hours and 16:00 - 17: hours) in urban or congested areas.

Northumbria Police will not check or approve any route - the haulier must ensure that the route is suitable and that the load movement can be carried out safely. 
Northumbria Police will not restrict the movement of STGO authorised loads at night or at any other time. However, the Road Traffic Act will continue to apply to such load movements and any attending escort vehicles. 
Northumbria Police will NOT undertake escorts of loads simply because other suitable private escort arrangements are not available but may prevent a load movement from taking place where the lack of suitable escort arrangements would cause danger or inconvenience to other road users.
Loads in excess of:

  • 6.1m wide;
  • 30m rigid length; or
  • 150,000 kg

operated under a 'Highways England Special Order' will continue to be escorted by the police.

Where police escorts are provided in accordance with this policy, in most cases the cost will be borne by the haulier at 'Special Duty' rates.


SOURCE DOCUMENT: Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

GROUPS AFFECTED: All police officers and police staff.


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