What is a “Chain of Custody”?
A chain of custody is established when two parties have a verifiable means to interrogate a package or enclosure as original and unopened when accepting the trailer or parcel from one another. A secure chain of custody further verifies the integrity of the enclosure as having the original undamaged seal prior to being handed off. A seal, therefore, used to establish a chain of custody must enable the verifier to visually interrogate the enclosure for penetration, with a known premise, which can include any information known to the inspector about the parcel, such as a number or hidden tamper-evident feature, and attest that the criteria is met prior to accepting the item in good order. Any seal type used in establishing a compliant chain of custody needs to be applied post stuffing or screening and serve as both an integrity seal and theft deterrent component.
The Validation Dilemma
In any inspection protocol the ability to verify and maintain security is paramount to the mission. No one can successfully insure a system where almost no packaging consistency exists, without a means by which any inspector, with or without training or a comparative basis, can make a decision as to possible tampering, manipulation or contamination of the sealed parcel.
Tamper Evident Technology (TET), especially security tapes and seals, used as a means to insure that cartons, containers and even trucks and trailers have not been surreptitiously opened, is an essential component in cargo security.