Close Protection – how to be seen, but not noticed
Close protection involves keeping an individual, and sometimes their family, safe. In general, those requiring close protection are high profile or high wealth individuals. In a corporate setting, it is mostly senior individuals who are under an identified threat or when travelling that require close protection. However, there are several elements that need to be to be considered when protecting an individual, no matter their status or position in society or an organisation, to ensure you are seen but not noticed.
Threat and Risk Assessment
The initial stage always requires a threat and risk assessment of the individual, their assets and an understanding of their vulnerabilities. This may include family, property, reputation, moral standing, or economic status, as well as their physical and mental well-being.
Undertaking a comprehensive threat assessment will allow for a working strategy to be developed and for outline options and contingencies that minimise any identified threat to be considered.
The identification of the threat can be ascertained through a vetting conversation with the principal, investigation into their social media presence and an understanding of their beliefs, whether they be religious or political, business practice and associates.
The use of intelligence indices to elicit a wider understanding of the individual through an intelligence gathering period will undoubtedly lead to a high-end understanding of the threat and risk posed.
Before any action is taken to mitigate an identified threat, there needs to be a conversation with the individual to understand their preferred, acceptable, and unacceptable outcomes in relation to the mitigation considerations.
This conversation will also allow for further discussion to include any intelligence that may not have previously been disclosed by the protected person.
It is during this period that trust and understanding will be formulated and set the foundation for the future relationship.
Developing the mitigations against threats
As part of the physical protection of an individual, several contingencies will be implemented.
Consideration will be given to “what ifs”. These could be many and varied; however; not all can be catered for in advance. The overarching plan should then be reviewed and updated as necessary, up to and during the subsequent event or occurrence.
All security personal involved with the protected individual should have a clear understanding of their role within the strategy, the possibilities outlined and their response to any emerging incident.
Where an individual is attending an event or venue, then potential safe areas or safe and predetermined routes from the venue should be considered. There could be numerous teams involved within a venue and it is imperative that all are aware of expectations.
As important as the team around the principal being aware of their roles and responsibilities, the protected person should also be aware of what is expected of them, should a dynamic situation arise where their immediate safety is at risk. A protected individual should be aware of how a security team will react, so as not to cause unnecessary alarm.
If a protected individual is part of a longer-term safeguarding process, then there is always the option of providing training; this can include basic tradecraft, counter and anti-surveillance and even behavioural detection techniques.
This training could include an understanding of social engineering, a term used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information, and remains an effective way for an individual to recognise and combat an individual with nefarious intent.
A longer-term protective scenario also allows for target hardening to take place at work or at home. There are many reputable companies able to supply the requisite protective measures.
Assessing the capabilities of assailants
The risk and threat assessment must also involve assessing the capacity and capability of any would-be assailant. A simple problem-solving diagram helps to identify the three main elements needed for a successful attack or offence to take place.
In a simple example, consider the elements required for a fire to take place. If we remove one of the conditons, no one or nothing burns. Using the Offender, Location, Target/Victim analogy can help to analyse the three aspects of protecting an individual and put mitigation measures in place to achieve the same result: everyone goes home safe.
It is vital to avoid complacency and to continually spin the intelligence wheel and constantly identify and assess threat and risk.
A good security provision can be seen but not noticed, while having minimal impact on the client and their lifestyle. This is achieved through thorough planning, training, and understanding of the protected person and their needs and expectations.
The development of trust between all parties is the key to a successful client/provider partnership. Without this we are preparing to fail.
Dave Cox and Richard Galvin
Heads of Security, CIS Security
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