Turtles on Fence Posts - Close Protection Provided By Untrained 'Operatives'
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Turtles on Fence Posts

Turtles on Fence Posts

“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 so important. By virtue of the service, ‘Close Protection’ is ‘close’; close to the Principal, (in terms of distance for the most part), close to the Principal’s staff, close to, and privy to, sensitive information etc, etc. It is fair to opine therefore, that within the service of CP, the higher the quality of operatives, the higher standard of service is, or will be, delivered.

The incorporation of a security company in the United Kingdom does not require that any of the company directors have either training or experience in the services they offer. This remains a common approach throughout many industries. The directorship/ management are present in their capacity as business generators, growth, market place presence and so forth. Yet, within an industry, specifically Close Protection, where the majority of companies are not within any form of group structure but incorporated by a single individual, managed and run by that same individual, the importance to service delivery where risk is involved could never be greater. Anyone incorporating a Limited company whether that individual has any training and experience in the service that company offers – or not, opens a raft of concern for any prospective client.

The industry is awash with ‘Post Turtles’. From those providing that service to those companies delivering that service. The Security Industry Authority put them there. They don’t belong up there, they don’t know what to do while they are up there, and any prospective client will not know the difference – until it is too late.

Richard Aitch
Director of Operations
Mobius International UK Ltd &
Mobius International Ltd

Mobius International UK Ltd Close Protection Operators/ Bodyguards are all former specialist government protection unit having served as Personal Protection Officers to the British Royal Family, UK Prime Minister and other ministers, British Ambassadors and Senior Military Command Staff together with the provision of protection to specific persons of a targeted threat. In effect, we have re-written the commercial/ private sector approach by the delivery of the highest standards in Close Protection. By solely using former government CP trained operators, our level of service is unsurpassed.