New BSIA guidance to help buyers of forensic marking solutions make informed purchasing decisions

Paul Phillips, Technical Officer at the BSIA
Paul Phillips, Technical Officer at the BSIA

This month sees the publication of a new Publicly Available Specification (PAS) that provides a method of assessing the performance of a forensic code. To help those working in the industry to understand the main points of the PAS, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has produced a short guide outlining its key points.

Forensic marking products are used to link items to an owner or place, or a suspect to stolen goods or the scene of a crime. They can be used to protect cables, lead roofing, personal property (e.g. computers and mobile phones), banknotes and safety-critical parts.

PAS 820:2012, ‘Laboratory-identifiable forensic codes – classification of performance when exposed to artificial weathering’ is a document published by the British Standards Institute, having been commissioned and sponsored by BSIA member company, Smartwater Technology Limited.

The purpose of the document is to overcome the difficulties that purchasers could encounter with assessing the length of time a forensic code will continue to be identifiable, and should help those making purchasing decisions to assess this aspect of a product.

A large proportion of the products in the UK that use forensic codes are manufactured or distributed by BSIA members. With this in mind, the BSIA has produced a short guide to help potential readers of the PAS to understand the basics of the document and whether or not it is relevant to them.

Paul Phillips, Technical Officer at the BSIA and author of the short guide, explains: “Many people find that standards – and the style of language they are written in – can be quite confusing, so this short introductory document was designed to help purchasers avoid such confusion and make an informed decision on their use of PAS 820.”

PAS 820 is available to purchase from the BSI’s online shop. It is not available from the BSIA.

The BSIA’s short guide to PAS 820 can be downloaded from the BSIA’s website.

For more information on the BSIA and its work in developing standards for the private security industry, visit