Why Secure Transportation is Critical – Duty of Care for Business Travel

The needs for employers to meet their duty of care requirements to employees is a complex process to navigate for many organizations. Understanding what measures you can take to manage this level of risk remains a considerable challenge. Incorporating the use of secure ground transportation USA into your travel risk management plans is a prudent move to reduce this risk and keep your people safe. Now, more than ever the need arises as to how best to meet this legal obligation for staff and employees who are traveling overseas on company business. The constituent groups this affects are varied, ranging from executives, accompanying spouses and dependents, students, teachers, volunteer groups, contractors – the list goes on.

A Duty of Care – A Definition

The broadly accepted definition of Duty of Care is: ‘is a legal obligation, which is imposed on an individual requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence.’ Moreover, there is now a growing recognition both in the courts and with potential plaintiffs that breaches of duty of care occurring abroad can be heard in U.S. courts. The number of cases being presented has increased and employment lawyers are particularly alert to the issue.

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Secure Transportation Considerations when Overseas

This sets an additional standard to be met by employers – in that the measures in place to meet the requirement at home may not suffice abroad. In fact, it is almost certain that it won’t. Your senior executives and traveling staff members will likely be most at risk and exposed to hazards when in transit – particularly when traveling by road or awaiting transportation outside of an airport, venue or business premises. If you are not paying attention to the additional safety and security needs for staff on travel abroad then it is highly likely that you may be placing your own organization at risk – both in terms of their physical safety, but also of potential future litigation.

Increasing Levels of Risk for the Business Traveler

The much-publicized case in 2015 of former NGO worker Steve Dennis provides an excellent example. Dennis, a former staff member of the Norwegian Re (NRC) issued the agency, claiming gross negligence and failure in duty of care after he was kidnapped and shot in Dadaab, Kenya. Dennis was traveling in a convoy through the camp when his car came under attack. The driver was killed, Dennis was shot in the leg and he and three other colleagues were taken captive. Interviewed in 2015, Dennis stated that: “Like everyone going into a risky situation for work, I believe there’s a minimum level of training and procedures required and when it’s not there I believe there should be accountability for it.”[1] This case absolutely highlights the need to have deliberate and sensible measures in place for employees traveling abroad – especially in an environment where there is an increased level of risk. Not only is transportation key, but also training employees – click here to learn about the Explore Secure® online travel safety training.

How Secure Executive Transportation can Protect Your Company

Employers and HR managers can help protect their staff (and indeed themselves) by reviewing their procedures and policies. Consider the use of pre-travel training packages or courses to prepare their people for the trips. Then, consider what can be done in-country to further reduce risk. As most issues and incidents tend to arise when people are in transit (especially traveling in vehicles on roads) a further consideration must be the use of secure executive transportation – with trained and vetted drivers. In higher risk environments with an increased likelihood of criminal activity, you may wish to use the enhanced services of a close protection officer in conjunction with secure transportation. It will keep you out of the courts – but above all will set conditions for a safer workplace abroad which in turn will allow your staff to focus on your organizational goals.

Protective Surveillance White Paper

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Protective Surveillance

The nuances of personal protection and the specialist options available to High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI’s), VIPs and Celebrities are never ‘one size fits all’. With each client, the situation and threat level will vary, as will their requirements and appetite. When it comes to security there is a myriad of options available, often (and hopefully) with multiple, complementary components working together in harmony. One weapon in the personal protection armory is Protective Surveillance. This article attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of a service that has multiple benefits, quite a few limitations, and several misrepresentations.

What is Protective Surveillance?

Protective surveillance is the creation of a covert security team around an individual or group, forming a protective bubble around the client in a covert manner. The Protective Surveillance Team (PST) watches those that may be watching the client. The primary role of a PST is working to control spaces and areas that would be used by hostile surveillance and potential imminent threats. Their objective is to pro-actively identify hostiles and threats (achieved through counter surveillance, behavioral analysis, and risk assessment). The other role of a PST (that runs concurrently) is to be able to react as a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) if required in extremis.

Why Utilize Protective Surveillance?

Hostiles normally use some form of pre-attack surveillance – whether rudimentary or professional. This may be short-term surveillance e.g. perpetrated by an individual opportunistic criminal looking for the best time to strike, or a high-level, multi-person surveillance team on a high-value target for hostile intent e.g. kidnap or murder. The PST will also be set-back from the Close Protection Team (CPT) and will likely have more of an over-arching perspective, able to dynamically risk assess without being caught ’in the weeds’.

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Why Do Hostile Gangs/Terrorists Undertake Surveillance?

Hostile individuals or groups need to gather intelligence on their target. To increase the chances of a successful attack it is useful to know the comings and goings of a target, their habits, and routines. What security they have, its strengths and weaknesses. What are the opportunities and threats? A hostile surveillance team will be trying to answer all these things and more. It is with this information that they can formulate a plan to attack their target more effectively and with a greater chance of success.

One example of hostiles undertaking pre-attack surveillance is the kidnap of Anneli-Marie in Germany, 2015. The kidnappers told police after being caught that they followed her for weeks, gaining information. Eventually, when the time was right they struck. Anneli-Marie was walking the family dog around the estate near her house when they attacked, dragged her into the car trunk and zip tied her. This incident, unfortunately, ended badly after the kidnappers panicked when they thought she saw their faces. They killed her, and still tried to obtain the ransom.

Protective Surveillance Teams – A pro-active resource

Identifying threats early is vital to ensure time to react. If one has time to react then the chances of a favorable outcome are increased dramatically. Any aggressive force normally has the advantage of surprise. The attack occurs on their terms. Very few aggressors will attack if they don’t feel they have the upper hand, they do so at a time of their choosing, and probably after extensive planning and preparation.

The assassination of Denis N. Voronenkov in March 2017, a former Russian lawmaker who was killed in Kiev in a widely publicized killing, identifies what happens when security does not have time to react. Denis Voronenkov, who’d been a Communist member of Russia’s lower legislative house before he left, was fatally shot outside a hotel in broad daylight. The assassin walked up behind the target and his personal security, then shot Voronenkov, after which a gunfight ensued and both Assassin and security were shot, and the VIP left dead.

There is an increased chance that a PST would have identified the threat early, communicated with the CPT and been able to pre-empt the attack or intercept.

Protective Surveillance is NOT Close Protection

A normal CPT will have a multitude of tasks and duties to perform that require their undiluted attention. Their focus must when moving with the client, be on the there and now, able to react at a seconds notice to the immediate threat. They provide the necessary ‘close’ protection.

Although a CPT will likely carry out anti-surveillance, taking actions to determine whether they may be under surveillance, a CPT cannot be protective surveillance, and a CPT cannot carry out counter-surveillance. It is the author’s opinion that effective hostile surveillance detection on high-level adversaries can only be undertaken as an entirely covert separate entity. To have complete separation to the CPT and be no way linked over time or by proxy minimizes the chance of being compromised – this is key to successful Counter-Surveillance.

What is the Difference Between Counter-Surveillance and Protective Surveillance

Counter-surveillance is when a third party is utilized to identify whether an individual or group is the target/subject of surveillance. A dedicated counter-surveillance team utilizes multiple methods both physical and technical to determine covertly whether someone is under surveillance. This terminology is often horrendously misused within the industry from commercial ‘experts’ causing extensive confusion.  Please click here to learn more about Hostile Surveillance Detection.

A protective surveillance team carries out counter-surveillance as one of its main roles but also has an underlying objective to protect the client from all threats, unlike a counter-surveillance team that remains covert and disseminates intelligence; a PST is in position, and trained to react to threats if necessary, and to break cover in the interests of client safety if required.

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Why does the CPT not just carry out Anti-Surveillance?

Accurately and efficiently identifying surveillance comes down to a large number of variable factors, the core ones being; the skill of the surveillance team and the skill of the anti/counter surveillance operators. It is very easy to look, but actually quite hard to see. Meaning: Many so-called surveillance ‘experts’ know the theory, but few have quality experience e.g. counter-terrorism, counter-espionage at a Government level, and/or extensive commercial experience.

Many close protection officers and self-titled hostile surveillance experts have only done at most a week or two of surveillance training or only commercial operations. The majority, have never been operational against surveillance aware, government level targets in challenging and dynamic environments. In most cases, this is just not enough to have a comprehensive ability to identify organized surveillance teams. A trained surveillance team should be able to identify anti-surveillance being carried out by a CPT and avoid it. Likewise, poorly implemented counter-surveillance is easily identifiable. This is compounded even further if the people carrying out the anti or counter-surveillance do not know what they are looking for and when – leading to a false sense of security.

How Can Hostiles Identify and Avoid Good Counter-Surveillance?

If done correctly, effective counter-surveillance is extremely hard to identify and nearly impossible to avoid. If a professional counter-surveillance team carries out the role, the hostile surveillance team will never know they have been identified. This is what the PST does, they undertake counter-surveillance in a dynamic role, but ready to function in other roles including as a QRF.

Protective Surveillance is NOT Low-Profile Protection

Low-profile protection is not to be confused with Protective Surveillance, low profile is not covert, low profile is not counter-surveillance. There are multiple uses and reasons for the application of low profile security, but the key objective of this article is the description of Protective Surveillance. A PST, to be effective, must remain covert and separate from the close protection detail.

What Are the Objectives of a Protective Surveillance Team

The PST’s main objective is to remain covert at all times, working constantly to covertly identify hostile surveillance and any other potential threats to the principal. By conducting Counter-Surveillance there is an increased chance of identifying hostiles in attack-planning stages or identifying pre-attack indicators of hostiles. If such hostiles are identified there are normally (but not limited to) three follow up options:

  • Inform the close protection team of a potential threat so that the Team Leader can make an informed decision e.g. the removal of the client to a safe environment, but without highlighting that a threat has been identified.
  • Aim to follow the hostile surveillance team to gather intelligence on them (conduct surveillance on that hostile surveillance team – sometimes incorrectly referred to as Counter-surveillance), obtain intelligence, positive identifications etc. so that the necessary authorities can deal with and extinguish the threat.
  • If the threat is perceived as being imminent the PST can either disrupt, defend, pre-emptively attack, or supplement.

When Should Protective Surveillance Be Utilized?

Protective surveillance is best suited to individuals, families, or groups at high risk of kidnap or attack. It is, due to the covert requirements, a resource-intensive role. To source experienced operators and have them working in a protective surveillance role requires significant investment. Sometimes a blend of close protection, low profile protection, and hostile surveillance detection may be commensurate with risk, or better suited to budget.

Protective Surveillance for High-Risk

For a high-risk client, it is imperative a security team is pro-active and not reactive. Too many times history has shown that systems are put into operation too late. When it comes to high-risk clients, protective surveillance must only be used in conjunction with a close protection team. The two teams though separate, are symbiotic. They work hand in hand towards the shared goal of keeping the client safe and secure. A PST on its own would likely be able to identify certain threats at an early stage and act accordingly. However, they would rarely be close enough to protect the client from an impromptu attack, or act as a last line of defense. They are also not an overt presence that acts as a visual deterrent to potential threats. This is why the two teams work perfectly together, each with a different scope of work, yet entirely interlinked.

Let us look at a real-life scenario, highlighting where protective surveillance could have fitted perfectly in conjunction with close protection to help engineer a very different outcome.

Protective Surveillance – Case Study  – A Colombian former interior minister Fernando Londono in Bogota was attacked during a vehicle convoy. His two-car convoy was held at a set of lights (one free lane to its left, two free lanes to its right) A bus then joined the left lane followed by cars to the left and right. Then a man crosses the street approximately 20 meters behind the cars carrying a large object. He circles around the bus and approaches Fernando Londono’s car attaching a limpet mine to the left front side. Within 30 seconds the mine explodes leaving two dead and 48 injured. Fernando Londono was very fortunate to survive; his level 5-armored car played a significant part in this. Some of his security detail was not so lucky.

It seems highly likely that the attackers in this instance would have had to have put Londono under prior surveillance to establish his routes, what car he traveled in, what security he had with him, did he have a pattern of life? Where best to carry out the attack and how to escape (the attacker ran down an alley to a waiting motorcycle).

A multitude of questions would need to have been answered to carry out such an attack. Protective surveillance would have most likely identified hostile observations and highlighted the imminent attack planning. Further, a PST follows the client at distance to observe the surroundings. There is a good chance that the team would have spotted a car following the client and more so an individual carrying a large suspicious object purposefully walking towards the client’s vehicle. As mentioned earlier identifying threats early is vital to allow time to react.

To further delve into this case study, Londono survived and was removed from the vehicle (via the trunk) injured and dazed within 30 seconds. His surviving close protection officers did a great job of extracting him through the crowd. What if there had been a second wave attack though? Let us imagine that the attackers had mounted a small arms assault post-explosion.

There is a good chance the surviving officers would have been overpowered due to their trauma and the focus on removing the principal. A PST also acts as a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and would have been able to move in and work to protect the immediate vicinity, and help counter any secondary or tertiary attack. Thus, a PST can provide the necessary cover and support so the CPOs could withdraw to the protective surveillance’s vehicles and extract the client. This is obviously in an ideal world, and hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the principle is valid.

A QRF does exactly as its namesake; it is a force (in this case a PST) able to react quickly in case of emergency. The covert nature of the team would be disregarded at times of extremes to act as a suitable support team. Whether this is as an assault team, a medical support team, or an extraction team. The fact that they would be covert right to the last moment provides an extra level of surprise and advantage to the protection detail.

A Focused Tool

Protective surveillance is a specific and focused tool in the provision of security to an individual or group. In the case of High-Risk protection, it is ideally suited to work hand in hand with a close protection team. Their symbiosis allows for a greater level of protection to be in place and most importantly allows TIME TO REACTFor a PST to be effective it requires operators skilled and experienced in surveillance and counter-surveillance, as well as preferably Close Quarter Battle (CQB) and dynamic Hostage Rescue. Able to remain covert at all times whilst being in the right place at the right time to identify threats, and then react accordingly. This is why ex-Special Forces (UKSF and Tier1 US SF) and former Government level operators are perfectly suited to PSTs.

Covert protection – Unknown to the Protectee/s

Protective Surveillance can be used without the client knowing they are being protected. This is often used in cases of children that may be at risk from abduction or kidnap but do not know the risk for whatever the reason or the guardians require a greater degree of peace of mind. High net worth individuals and celebrities, for example, may have close protection teams but their children do not and have no appetite to do so. Yet the risk still exists. Kidnaps and abduction are a significant risk for these individuals as was identified in the Anneli-Marie case in Germany.

There are multiple limitations to this form of protection. As discussed prior, there would be no ‘bodyguard’ or person/s close to the protected at all times. Although not providing the level of protection that a CPT does, a PST can mold to this requirement of covert protection, allowing a parent to have peace of mind that their children are being observed, and overseen by a security team.

Point to Note: With reference children, a PST can be supplemented by a Close Personal Protection Officer Male or Female that operates in a Nanny, or Child Minder role (overtly responsible for safety and welfare of the child) but covertly they are trained CPOs, medics and in constant covert communication with the PST.

Protective Surveillance – Client Not Wanting Overt Security and Willing To Accept The Limitations

Whilst protection may be required, overt bodyguards or close protection teams may not suit the client. Certain clientele desire covert protection, not wanting the attention gained from having an overt team in close vicinity at all times, yet wanting the confidence that someone is watching over them, and working to protect them. Just like earlier there are multiple limitations to this form of ‘protection’ as no person is close to the client at all times. But, if done well a PST can adapt and constantly work to control the areas around the client, be in the best position possible, at the right times, undercover. This method is often expensive, more suited to short-term, set-itineraries, but can be achieved.

This article was written by Mark Deane, the CEO of ETS Risk Management Inc. and previously published in the Circuit Magazine.

Mark is a risk management specialist whose experience stems from his previous career as a Covert Operational Officer with the British Government. Since leaving HMG he has developed ETS Risk Management into one of the leading security companies for individuals, organizations, and corporates requiring a range of boutique protective services including protective surveillance.

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