Close Protection

“When you see a turtle on top of a fence post, chances are he didn't get there on his own.” ~ Anon   I read a story not long ago and an immediate analogy struck to my mind.. “While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to politics and then they discussed some new guy who was far too big for his shoes as a politician. The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know, he is a post turtle’. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was. The old rancher said, ‘When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’. The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain. ‘You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place.’ “ The striking similarities to the private security industry Close Protection sector are obvious.  Close Protection is a specialist area of security. It requires a deep understanding of threat, risk, and vulnerability, and how to mitigate and control them.  Specialist occupations/ job functions require specialist training.  Yet, the UK regulator that imposes the standards for training in the United Kingdom, the Security Industry Authority, (SIA), has imposed a standard that is far from fit for purpose. In effect, through the law of unintended (and intended) consequences, the SIA’s blueprint machination has created a baseline for performance in this serious profession as being low, ineffective and unfit for purpose.  They throw caution to the wind and in so doing have created an industry based on race to the bottom – both in terms of contractor and contracting company alike. The industry is absolutely overwhelmed with individuals providing such a 'service' where they are simply out of their depth; knowledge is minimal, performance overly substandard, and delivery of actual service any client believes he/ she is receiving barely lip service and all for show. They are in effect 'turtles'. There remains a long list of factors within the scope of the delivery of security operations in general of what constitutes standards and how those standards can be detrimentally impacted from both internal and external causes or influences.  Within the private sector, from the moment a security services provider is selected by a prospective client to the determination of the client’s requirements based on the assessment of threats, risks and the mitigation (if that occurs) and control of both (if that occurs) in addition to the clients’ preferences (if that occurs).  From the very initial selection and training of those providing the security tactics, techniques and procedure on the ground to their experience and exposure to protective security operations to systems procurement and installation to client and third-party stakeholder liaison and support acquisition to the presentation, effectiveness and efficiency of delivery and experience of the business line. The whole host of seen and unseen potentials are aspects of security service provision are not often considered whatsoever either by the client – or shockingly, often by the provider themselves. The standard of any service industry is dependent upon the personnel/ staff that deliver that service.  Any candidate selection criteria then must be geared to the service for that candidate is being selected.  Close Protection is hugely diverse in terms of clients/ principals and threats.  Selection of principals’ CP teams often involve criteria specific to those clients/ principals and threats but also to the wishes and preferences of the principals themselves, including to the point of their facial appearance, especially those permanent positions where the principal directly influences the candidature process and far from any legality concerning the Human Rights and Equality Act regarding specific employment discrimination! Determining candidate selection criteria for training however, must focus on the job function with its aims to maximise operational performance.  It is this reason alone why candidate selection is...

“Threats against a person who has protection afforded to them due to their status within a specific family are not diminished when they leave the duties of that family.  They will always remain a member of that family."   ~ Richard Aitch Much talk has been made in recent days on the response of the Harry and Meghan interview, much notably concerning the aspect of their security being stopped on their departure from Royal duties. There remains in place specific protocol and process concerning the assessments made and budgetary approval for protection measures from seniority within the Family to the activity of their duties.  This is conducted through a combination of intelligence gathering exercises conducted by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, (JTAC), a 'five-eyes partnership' via agreements with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Assessments are then communicated with the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (RaVEC), a committee comprising of senior civil servants and Scotland Yard Officers, members from the Royal household and discussed directly with the Security Services.  Quite naturally, cost remains a major factor through that decision making and a balance is met in that subsequent provision. The justification for financial responsibility as a burden on the UK tax payer in consideration to the protection of Harry and Meghan may appear to be a clear cut one.  If their position no longer satisfies the remit of that financial responsibility then of course, that cost outlay would be stopped. The question here though, is not so much one of cost but one of threat. Opinions vary in consideration to the effect of threats against the couple now that they have departed the Monarchy with some stating that have been much reduced. As a direct consequence of threats being specific to the Royal Family and that they are no longer considered within the duties of the Family, that those same threats against them would no longer be present. One would rightly imagine that the decision to remove the couple's protection was a quagmire.  Yet, the reasoning appears to be clear cut; 'you no longer satisfy the remit of protection afforded to you'. As I mentioned in the blog 'Harry and Meghan - The Security Implication' the decision would be compounded by a 'duty of care' responsibility whether that would have been a conscious one - or not. After all, the repercussions in the event of severe actions untoward against the couple after the removal of such protection is a serious consideration to make. However, justification for such removal have also included reasoning of much reduced threat against them.  Yet, threats against a person who has protection afforded to them due to their status within a specific family are not diminished when they leave the duties of that family.  They will always remain a member of that family.  Threats per se are wide ranging and the reasons for them are also. Where some threats may be reduced, through no longer participating in Royal duties and through that the attendance of certain countries and venues, other threats have increased.   The Royal Family are privileged to receive Police protection. This protection experiences the luxury that the full weight of the law provides.  Access to intelligence flows from diverse agencies, control of traffic flow, the creation of secure, sterile areas, uniformed Police presence, Counter Terrorism Command, the list goes on.  Compare and contrast that with the private sector where an almost complete lack of proper intelligence gathering exists, the absence of ability to control the immediate environment in terms of traffic and the general public, this list also goes on. I would not say the threats have reduced to any substantial level but that the risk to specific threats have much increased.  Security is a compromise dictated by money and party politics - whether that be within government or private sector realms. Budgets will always remain a constant and pivotal aspect of decision making.  Yet, for me, the UK should have continued some input into the provision of Harry and Meghan's security.  It should remain a joint operation between the Met Police and the assisting agencies and organisations and that of the private sector provision. When one considers a worst case scenario, one does not want to consider the conversation of who...

"When you're out of quality, you're out of business". ~ Phil Crosby This month sees me beginning my 19th year as Director of Security for a leading businessman. They say 'There is no security in security' and to some extent this can be true. So, how can it be possible to form a longstanding and rewarding career in a specialism that you enjoy? Many in this day and age expect everything yesterday and for the minimum of effort. I'm not entirely sure what the reason for this is. Maybe it is a generation thing or a cultural one, who knows? The one thing I am sure of, is that if you want to progress professionally with longevity in a profession you enjoy doing then not only a little work is involved - a lot of work is involved. Protective Security is an all encompassing subject matter with overlapping specialisms in their own right. From Surveillance to Penetration Testing to Clandestine Blue Chip Investigations to Close Protection and the several differing methods in which it can be deployed are specialist areas that require in-depth training, experience and exposure to become competent operators/ operatives. Industry regulator's such as the Security Industry Authority deliver a narrative that CP is much like Key Holding or Door Supervision. Security services that can be delivered from a 139 hour course where the instructors may only have 3 years of experience themselves who can deliver a course with a 1:10 instructor to student ratio. Throughout the 15 years since the imposition of the SIA's tokenism to this specialism, I have been an untiring advocate of raising standards to a proper fit for purpose level. Why? Because the end user, the Principal has a dire need to be assured that the service he/ she expects is the service he/ she receives. That the concern's the Principal's have and the subsequent reasons for their security requirement are such that they do not want to roll the dice on individuals who are learning how to do the job, on-the-job. They do not want to roll the dice on the service provider delivering their service who incorporated their company on the back of a 2-week course and now provide advice and guidance in specialist security subject matter. Principals want their security to be fit for purpose. To be able to mitigate and control those risks to which they feel, and in some cases evidently are, vulnerable to. They want to ensure that the individuals that look after them or their wife, partner or their children will be able to detect, identify and 'proactively react' to assessed threats, to be able to formulate protective operational plans and execute them effectively, smoothly and without fanfare or problem. They want to ensure that their security staff are diligent, constantly striving to better the situation whatever that may be, to tweak and perfect the security solution to the highest of standards. The industry as a whole supports the assessment that the current training practise of Close Protection is unfit for purpose but instead of delivering training courses that meet the requirements of the workplace, they fall to the lowest level. This is not necessarily their fault. It is market forces that dictate that if a minimum level of training provides a UK government recognised license to work on the streets of the UK then to increase content and duration and the subsequent knock-on effects of increased cost, reduced footfall through cost and time on course, it remains cutting off your nose despite your face. This is the commercial market where cash is king - not standards. Training is the foundation on which to progress from. If training is poor then so too will be that progression. The industry, at the behest of the regulator, does not see the solution is to remedy the initial training but sees additional training thereafter as the fixer to the problem. Courses are cash and cash is king. Boys clubs in the form of institutes and the multitude of organisations where post nominals can be bought through an annual membership subscription are seen as a route to improve, to progress, to become part of the pack. After all, it's not what you know, it's who you know -...

“The man who does not take pride in his own performance performs nothing in which to take pride."  ~ Thomas J. Watson There are many ways to measure the performance of a company so as to determine if it is doing well. The most common method is to look at its gross or net profit. This, however, isn’t always a reliable way to determine the performance of a company and certainly, within a specialist security provision where threat(s) to life are the reason for that provision, the term, ‘operational performance’ comes into its own meaning in comparison with all other usual businesses’ objectives.    What is Operational Performance within the context of security service provision? Surprisingly, no definition exists for what constitutes ‘Close Protection Operational Performance’ – or indeed what constitutes ‘operational performance’ within any security sector outside of Information Technology. Within a specialist service delivery and common organisational ‘Mission’ and ‘Vision’ statements and goals within both government and private sectors, defining the scope of ‘operational performance’ in protective security operations has yet to be determined.  However, overall performance in Close Protection operations are affected and based on, two main influences; the company or organisation delivering the service and the individual providing the service.  I have therefore created one based on both business/ organisation and individual alike:  “Close Protection Operational Performance is the performance of an organisation or individual against prescribed standards where the objectives of speed, flexibility, quality, costs and dependability are fulfilled or accomplished against a promise, contract or obligation according to its terms.” The above definition forms the very basis for the reason why it is so influential in consideration to maximising the values, ideals and principles of protective security operations. It encompasses everything associated with the delivery of highest standards concerning protective security operations whether as an individual or as a company (or government unit); operational performance and standards combined with accomplishing objectives against an obligation defines maximising the protective security effort.   But what does that actually mean? There remains a long list of factors within the scope of the delivery of security operations in general of what constitutes standards and how those standards can be detrimentally impacted from both internal and external causes or influences.  Within the private sector, from the moment a security services provider is selected by a prospective client to the determination of the client’s requirements based on the assessment of threats, risks and the mitigation and control of both in addition to the clients’ preferences.  From the very initial selection and training of those providing the security tactics, techniques and procedure (TTP’s) on the ground to their experience and exposure to protective security operations to systems procurement and installation to client and third-party stakeholder liaison and support acquisition to the presentation, effectiveness and efficiency of delivery and experience of the business line. The whole host of seen and unseen potentials are aspects of security service provision not often considered whatsoever either by the client – or shockingly, even by the provider themselves.  In consideration to the aforementioned factors, the meaning of ‘Operational Performance’ within Close Protection differs from the standpoint of the user in terms of 4 main perspectives which are dependent on: For the purpose of this blog we will focus on the Close Protection Candidate and the contract Service Provider. 1)  The Components of the CP Candidate Candidate Selection To ensure candidature suitability throughout all training criteria and operational requirements Standards = Candidate Selection + Training (+ Integrity) ‘Standard’ is defined as a level of quality or attainment. To produce that quality within a service-oriented profession is as simple as understanding that it is the by-product of the level of training you have delivered (or received depending on your outlook or position).  The direct correlation being the better the training, the better the resultant standard.  Standards, or rather level of training one initially receives, is not the only influence regarding maximising the end result in operational performance of a service delivered profession but that it is the level of ability and capability of the individual delivering that service whereby true performance is excelled.  The combination of high-quality candidature combined with high quality training is the formula to deliver best operational performance.  The best example of this is the approach to UK Special...

  - 15 YEARS TOO LATE   Prior to Licensing for the Close Protection sector in 2006 I wrote to the SIA stating that several training objectives in their CP course were missing and made recommendations in a review paper to them. As a twice member of the Review Committee for reviewing the National Occupational Standards for Close Protection after when licensing came into effect I did the same and wrote a book highlighting the inadequacies of their course content and duration - one of these was Physical Intervention.   Some 14 years later we see the SIA finally accepting that Physical Intervention should be included in their course. It will be at least 15 years in total before it comes into effect.  How many more years will it be before the SIA stipulate industry entrance benchmarks or even the need for a Driving License is required?   The Industry Regulator's Approach Communication remains vital in defusing conflict. Not only those termed as ‘tactical’ but also the manner in which we ourselves speak to others to satisfy our aims but without causing further friction. However, although communication is a two-way process, it remains just as important to read the nonverbal, as it is the manner of the verbal. By striving to win the nonverbal we immediately act as a deterrent. In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on workplace violence. Courses and qualifications had been created under titles of ‘Conflict Management’ and ‘Conflict Resolution’. This emphasis had also been adopted by the SIA* as part of their core learning and qualifications in their ‘Conflict Management Module’ for a Close Protection license.     ‘Physical Intervention Skills’ was listed under ‘Skills for Employment’ by the SIA immediately the regulator began licensing the sector in 2006, but they did not include it as part of the core competencies, and stated that -     And     As with minimum medical and physical fitness standards this subject is omitted in its entirety in commercial CP training objectives and requirements with the newly qualified civilian ‘CPO’ being absolutely untrained in any protection related or self‐defence combat skills and methods. In 2006, the National Occupation Standards for Close Protection, created by SITO through their consultations with industry, of which the SIA chose some and not others in the creation of their own list of core competencies, did include a form of Physical Intervention Skills but this form was of ‘Control & Restraint’ and remains inappropriate and ineffective in a Close Protection environment.     Control & Restraint – Its Place? It must be appreciated that the SIA list of core competencies are based solely around CP operations within the UK, hence, the obvious absence of weapons training and related disciplines. However, in light of this, it must also be made aware the absence of unarmed combat training related to the protection of a third party, which is very relevant to operating in the UK as it is indeed elsewhere. The nearest description one could find relating to the subject is one of ‘Control and Restraint’ in ‘National Occupational Standards for Close Protection, Skills For Security’, under the heading, ‘Unit PCP 9, Control and Restraint to support Close Protection’ (2006). Control and Restraint (C & R) is terminology predominantly used by the Police, Prison Service and Health Service in the use of arrest and detention applications and can be defined as, ‘A method used to safely restrain a person that poses a serious risk to the health and safety of themselves or others’ (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2006). C & R consists of holds and releases from holds and restraint positions. Therefore, should a BG be providing protection on his own as an individual bodyguard (IBG) and they and their Principal be confronted by multiple assailants, - no one is providing protection when one of the assailants is being restrained by the BG. Indeed, if we simplify the scenario further by reducing to just one assailant - how long should the BG restrain the assailant? If he is to release the restraint, the apprehended individual becomes an assailant once more. The Principal is certainly not going to wait until the Police arrive on scene. It is imperative that the BG must know how to diffuse a situation in handling those using verbal and physical attack whilst...

A Standards Enhancing Necessity Or The Art of BS? Private sector Close Protection operations are, from the outset, restricted and limited insofar as maximising security effectiveness is concerned – anywhere in the world. The whole host of factors outside of anyone’s immediate control is a grave disability to the function and performance of ‘Principal Security’.  The combination of incompatible laws, unsuitable and incognizant industry workers, companies conducting themselves as ‘pimps’ instead of facilitators with an overarching Security Industry ‘Authority’, (SIA), playing ringmaster of the circus is no place where the justification(s) for protective security are real, tangible and serious.  “Seldom would you experience a service-oriented industry where the standards of delivery are so detrimentally affected by both internal and external influences that the situation has become one of a perfect storm.” In effect, through the law of unintended (and intended) consequences, the SIA’s blueprint machination has created a baseline for performance in this serious profession as being low, ineffective and unfit for purpose.  They throw caution to the wind and in so doing have created an industry based on race to the bottom – both in terms of contractor and contracting company alike.  According to the SIA, newly, lightly termed ‘trained’ CP individuals, after a 2-week course, have received a qualification, “…designed as entry to the industry only…” and that “…if they (certain training objectives we do not include) are vital for the deployment of an individual these would be/ should be imposed by the employer as part of their recruitment/ deployment…” SIA September 2019 The SIA continue to this day to pass the buck of responsibility of standards required to the employer and still fail to recognise the overriding fact – that employers are, for the most part, only mainly concerned with ensuring that an individual they employ has a license.  To exacerbate the issue on a global scale, countries around the world have adopted a similar approach based on a comparable set of training margins and industry entrance benchmarks (complete lack of) to that of the SIA.  For the industry newcomer, this is of course only the helpless start point.  For any prospective client, it remains a dire and troubling situation. The passing of the of the Private Security Industry Act 2001[1] and in exercising its executive power, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) has produced a causal sequence of an explosive nature concerning the increase in training and operational companies and industry workers alike.  After decades since the imposition of the SIA level, the ‘mean average’ of performance within the Close Protection sector specifically remains inadequate and unsatisfactory.  As a vocal lead in highlighting the debacle I have found that the core voice of public opinion within the CP sector are adamantly agreeable that the SIA training course is unfit for purpose.  Many (with whom their own personal training only encompasses the SIA level) will however excuse this point on the misplaced reasoning of: – Students cannot be expected to take more time off work – There is no evidence that an 8-week course is better than a 2-week course – No course makes anyone an expert – You learn ‘on the job’ – The course is only a starting point – A good course can be delivered in 2 weeks – This is a UK London only course for those wishing to only work UK This reasoning seriously fails to understand the importance of proper training to instil as a baseline for operational performance, that operations are the place to perfect the skills learnt and not a place to learn basic skills.  Within an industry swamped due to zero industry entrance benchmark requirements, an explosion of cheap two-week courses anyone can do as long as they can pay resulting in far more sector workers than there are work opportunities, the industry appears to be more of an opportunity of ‘lynch the workers’ than it does to focus on the delivery of a service.  This has also seen ‘the rise of the Association’: International Close Protection Training Association World Close Protection Association International VIP Bodyguard World Bodyguard Association International Bodyguard Association International Association of Personal Protection Agents International Association of Close Protection Officers International Close Protection Training Association Association of Security Consultants International Executive Close Protection Agency British Security Industry Association The British Bodyguard Association The Security Institute The Guild of Security Industry Professionals International Foundation for Protection Officers Law Enforcement Bodyguard...