NEW regulations aimed at improving security standards in the air cargo industry have been drafted by the British Department of Transport (DoT). The DoT, working with cargo agents, airlines, courier companies, and airport authorities, is pioneering a new security standard in the industry, which is more than likely to be adopted by other countries. The scheme places the emphasis on all partners in the distribution chain, identifying and working within a known and regulated security environment. Among other things, the new measures call for the compilation of a list of agents capable of meeting specified security requirements. All cargo from agents on the list will be deemed by the Secretary of State for Transport as being not required to undergo further security controls by airlines. Failure to comply with DoT directives can result in companies being struck off the list. However, freight from agents not on the list will have to undergo rigorous security controls by the airlines. In addition to regular inspections, inspectors from the DoT will make spot checks at airport and cargo warehouses. Poor security in the air cargo industry was brought into focus during the Gulf War, and appropriate measures - then aimed only at airlines - were introduced. The proposed new rules set out the framework under which air cargo agents may apply to be listed. Certain minimum standards have to be met prior to acceptance for listing. One of the main criteria is the submission of a satisfactory programme in which forwarders list procedures they have put in place to maintain air cargo security. This includes a named individual responsible for all security standards; information on physical security and access to control measures; details of recruitment and training procedures; contingency plans; security measures for receiving, storing and transporting cargo; and procedures for accounting of cargo. ''Known shippers'' will also have to commit themselves contractually to these standards, and goods received from them will have to be clearly identified. Although the DoT has yet to finalise the security measures to be applied to various types of cargo, there will be a considerable degree of discretion permitted for consignments received from ''known shippers''. Agents may continue to receive goods from shippers who cannot be classified as ''known''. However, the security measures required in these cases will be tighter. The onus is being placed both on the original shipper of the goods, as well as the agent and the airline, to satisfy the authorities that the shipment is of a secure status. Individuals or companies failing to comply with minimum requirements may not only be struck off the register, but could also be prosecuted if found to be knowingly providing bogus information. The DoT has acknowledged that the new measures mean the creation of a new culture within the international air cargo business. This will be triggered by the introduction of approved training and recruitment processes. Training programmes are already being worked out by the DoT and these will be conducted by bodies accredited for that purpose. These bodies will largely be involved in training instructors and security managers, who will then pass on the skills or awareness expertise to the staff of agencies and the like. Under the new regime, airlines and agents will get the same treatment and will have to assume their share of responsibility. Although airlines might not subject cargo from listed agents to additional security controls, they will be required to store such freight in controlled areas.