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Abnormal Loads

Dated: 23 March 2022

POLICY TITLE: Abnormal Loads

OWNING DIRECTORATE: Force Coordination

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 Road Traffic Act applies to all abnormal load movements and any attending escort vehicles. The role of Northumbria Police in respect of most abnormal loads is therefore to ensure compliance with the law.

It is a haulier’s responsibility to ensure that a route is suitable and that the load movement can be carried out safely.

In accordance with an agreement by the haulage industry, Highways England and the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), routine escorting of abnormal loads authorised by The Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003 (STGO) will not be carried out by the police but in most cases by the hauliers themselves.

Abnormal loads of certain dimensions are required to have an attendant, but STGO 2003 permits the attendant to be in an accompanying or ‘escort vehicle’. Northumbria Police considers the provision within legislation for such an escort vehicle is to warn other road users of the presence of an abnormal load on the road, particularly where an abnormal load exceeds the lane width.

Northumbria Police will not escort abnormal loads simply because they exceed the lane width. It is considered best practice however for abnormal loads that are likely to encroach into the opposing lane or in any case are over 3.5 metres wide, to be accompanied by a private escort vehicle.

A private escort vehicle must not be used to stop or control other traffic.

Northumbria Police will NOT undertake escorts of abnormal loads because 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.

Abnormal loads should not be moved during peak traffic times (07:30 - 09:30 hours and 15:30 - 17:30 hours) in urban or congested areas.

Northumbria Police will not restrict the movement of STGO authorised loads at night or at any other time (except those times indicated above).

STGO requires that Police are given two clear days’ notice of abnormal load movement.

Northumbria Police will only accept notifications sent by e-mail to or submitted through the Highways England - electronic service delivery for abnormal loads (esdal2). Abnormal load notifications will not be routinely checked but will be saved for future reference, they may be quality controlled, and a haulier contacted to discuss their notification. Northumbria Police will not check or approve any notified route.

Short notice abnormal load notifications (less than two clear days’ notice) will be accepted but only by direct e-mail to with the words “SHORT NOTICE” in capital letters entered in the e-mail subject line.

Loads moved under the authority VR1
Movements of loads over five metres wide are authorised by a form VR1 issued by Highways England. Hauliers are expected to contact Northumbria Police to discuss such movements. Where loads are moved under the authority of a VR1 particularly in urban and congested areas or on narrow single carriageways, it is likely that there will be a need to stop and control other traffic; such actions cannot be carried out by private escort vehicles. Hauliers should consult with Northumbria Police, Force Resilience Unit (see contact details below) to assess the need for a police escort.

Note: Should those involved in the private escort of an abnormal load attempt to stop or control traffic they may be liable to prosecution.

Loads moved under Highways England Special Order
Loads in excess of 6.1m wide; 30m rigid length; and/or 150,000 kg operated under a Special Order must be escorted by Northumbria Police (exceptions can be discussed when contact is made with Northumbria Police). In order to arrange a police escort hauliers should consult with Northumbria Police, Force Resilience Unit (see contact details below).

Escort Charges
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.

Agricultural vehicles
Like abnormal loads, operators of agricultural vehicles are required by STGO to give Police at least 24 hours notification of their movement, if the vehicle width (or width of vehicle and any lateral projection) exceeds three metres, their journey is over five miles and/or includes roads subject to a 40 mph or below speed limit.

Northumbria Police will issue operators of agricultural machinery dispensation from such notification, upon application, to the Force Resilience Unit by e-mail to ('AGRICULTURAL DISPENSATION' should be entered in capital letters in the subject line). Dispensations will apply to movements within a 25 miles radius of where the vehicle is based or the point of entry into Northumbria Police area and must be renewed annually.

It is considered best practice that any agricultural vehicle over 3.5 meters wide is escorted by a private escort vehicle.

Where dispensation has not been applied for/granted notification of movement should be e-mailed to with 'AGRICULTURAL MOVE' in the subject line.

Contact Details
The Force Resilience Unit (abnormal loads) may be contacted by:
E-mail (preferred):
Telephone: 0191 4373615
Post: Northumbria Police Force Resilience Unit (abnormal Loads), Force Coordination and Operations Department, Etal Lane Police Station, Etal Lane Newcastle upon Tyne. NE5 4AW


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

GROUPS AFFECTED: All police officers and police staff.


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