Secure Transport: How a Security Driver Increases Productivity for Executives

Secure Transport can be seen as a “nice to have” not a “need to have”. For many organisations, the return on investment for hiring a security driver for senior executives is judged to be high enough to justify the expense. One of the main reasons for this (though not the only one) is that transportation organised by a security company greatly increases the productivity of the executive and, in some cases, improves the results of the entire business trip.

Secure Transport : Increasing Productivity

With a security driver, executives are able to work en-route and prep for the core activities of the trip. Not only do they not need to drive, but they also do not need to think about any travel details like flight times, delays, routes, timing between legs of the trip, and so on. In other words, in addition to time saved, a security driver allows the executives’ mind to remain fully focused on work throughout the trip. If you were to calculate how much the executive’s time is worth on an hourly basis, the cost of a security driver and executive protection is usually very easily justified.

 

Security personnel can also rely on tools that the ordinary traveler does not have access to.  For example, security personnel can coordinate with pilots (for those travelling on private aircraft) and airport staff in advance or in accordance with changes in travel plans. This benefit will usually take the stress out of travel even when unforeseen problems like delays and cancellations arise. Another feature of the security driver is that, if they are executive protection trained, they greatly reduce security risks associated with travel.  A traveling executive may be a target for harassment, theft or harm if they are identified as either an easy target or a person of wealth. Criminals may identify these executives by what they wear, any expensive accruements and accessories, by how they carry themselves or indeed if they are a well known person. Executive protection personnel reduce the risk of harm to these executives by being able to alter routines including pick up and drop off points, identify the safest routes and change them if necessary, or react appropriately in the event a threat becomes prevalent.  Executives will also enjoy the general comforts that come with VIP travel, which can also boost productivity, including Wi-Fi, snacks, and beverages.

 

A core part of the value proposition of a security driver for an executive is that their overall presence can help to increase the success of the trip.  For one, if the executive can spend travel time preparing for the upcoming meetings, it will improve the outcome of the trip as a whole.  But more importantly, travel details can often detract from core purpose of the trip. If the executive is busy with travel details, hassles, and minor crises, he or she is presumably not in the optimal mental space for the core activities of business trip.  A security driver allows the executive to focus on the results of the company and, leaving all travel and security details to someone else.

 

Australian Executive Protection specialists and Security & Risk Management Company, Panoptic Solutions, provides secure transport and drivers in Australia’s major cities including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast as well as throughout the Asia Pacific region. For more information about the secure transport options we are able to provide, email our team at info@panopticsolutions.com , submit an enquiry through our website here or call +61 1300 651 407

Getting the Edge on Life – Interview with Rhys Dowden

Can mindset really help travellers and security operatives respond safely to uncertain circumstances? This post summarises a podcast interview with former Australian Special Forces soldier and hostile environment security expert, Rhys Dowden about the benefits of a preparation mindset. He explains his holistic approach to confidence in any situation and his tips for getting the edge on life.

Rhys has a wealth of experience in the security sector including a role as executive protection operative to Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. He’s a Ronin South Africa graduate and holds a post-graduate certificate in security management. Rhys is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black-belt, a helicopter pilot and now uses his expertise to help his clients develop a winning edge as a mindset and mental conditioning coach.

Types of travellers explained

There are two types of travellers – those who are prepared and those who aren’t. Those who aren’t prepared are the ones who get to the check-in counter and seem to forget why they’re even there. Or those who forget to take their belt off though they’ve been through the X-ray machines at least 50 times before, and hold up the whole line.

There are also those travellers who go to a volatile country like South Africa without any real incident. And because they’ve travelled safely, think they’re good to go to other volatile countries. Unfortunately, they can find themselves in potentially dangerous situations without a clue how to react. This could be a layperson, business traveller or even someone in the security contract field who’s managed to get this far relying on luck. Whoever it is, the reality is that the more prepared you are, the better position you’re in when facing a tricky travel situation.

The preparation mindset

Preparation, says Rhys is the key to success in any tricky situation. In his business, Operator Edge, he helps people tackle all kinds of challenges through developing a state of preparedness, both mentally and physically. So, whether they’re hoping to go into special forces or they’re just looking to hit some big hairy audacious goals, Rhys helps them build confidence to the point where they feel like they can go after whatever they want, confident of success.

Rhys goes on to explain that the crucial element is the ability to plan out their mission, to adapt and overcome adversity. The difference between those who bounce back from setbacks and push forward with drive and discipline, and those that stumble and fall, is their mindset.

Mission planning puts you in control

Rhys says that when it comes to travel, whether you’re a layperson or security operative, the first and most important element is mission planning. Mission planning means anticipating situations that could go wrong and planning the processes you can action if setbacks do happen.

‘Whatever the task, whatever the goal, the more you plan that mission down to the nth degree, the more likely that mission is going to go the way you want.’

For example, make sure you have all your documents, visas and timings planned out, and that you know the procedures you must go through in different countries. Travelling can be tiring and tough. If a difficult situation occurs and you’re not prepared for it, it can have a knock-on effect. However, if you’ve anticipated the problem and have pre-planned a response to it, you’ll be far less emotional and better able to deal with it successfully, moving forward with less disruption.

‘The advantage is that if and when things go wrong, you’re okay because you’ve already thought about it and you’re in the right mindset to get over it. Being out of your comfort zone and being in a situation where you don’t have full control is okay, because you know you’re going to get through it.’

When you travel, there are moments when you find yourself out of your comfort zone. You might be in a line that goes all the way around the airport. Or, you might be faced with a confrontation where your physical well-being is at risk. The thing is, the body reacts to stress the same way. But when you’ve planned your trip and thought through all eventualities, you won’t have such an extreme stress response if you do get challenged, since you’ve already put in processes to get around that roadblock.

Rhys explains how, in stressful situations, your sympathetic nervous system kicks in to get your body ready for fight or flight. Your heart rate increases, your blood starts flowing to your big systems and muscle groups, and your frontal lobe can effectively switch off. (This is where cognitive thinking happens, like focusing and processing.) Being ready, focused, and situationally aware of what could happen in advance is the key to overriding the body’s stress response. You’re more able to control your body and therefore think through the situation because you’re in the right mindset and you’re prepared.

Of course, there are plenty of situations and contingencies that we may not be aware of or able to plan for, and Rhys goes on to explain the kind of preparation we can put in place for any uncertain events.

Tip #1 – Breathing

The easiest and probably the most important thing you can do to prepare for anything is a simple breathing exercise. Breathing right into your diaphragm, nice and slow, taking 15 or so seconds to go through a breathing cycle, will enact your parasympathetic nervous system. This is your rest and digest system that works to bring your body back to homeostasis (balance). By doing this exercise and filling your body with as much oxygen as possible, you will think and process better and quicker and therefore be more able react the way you want to.

Tip #2 – Creating your winning environment

Rhys talks to his clients about conditioning the mind to be tougher and creating a winning environment by controlling what you can control. This might be practices like getting up in the morning for exercise, making sure your house is tidy before you leave for work, or making sure that you’re presentable. All these things build a platform of success.

‘If you always win, you’re always winning. It’s very hard to be lazy and then expect to be tough enough to turn up to a selection course like Special Forces and get through it. Toughness starts from the little things that you do every day consistently over time.’

Tip #3 – The Big Four

The Navy SEAL technique to conquering fear and panic, known as The Big 4, cites the keys of mental toughness as: goal setting, visualisation, arousal/breathing control and self-talk.

In the case of travel, this would mean planning your trip, visualising your journey, playing out in your mind what could go wrong and how you could positively respond in any given situation. Faced with that stressful situation and your sympathetic nervous system kicking in, you’re prepared to enact the breathing routine which helps your body come down off that stressful high and allows your frontal lobe to switch back on so you can think through the situation.

Self-talk is a huge part of mental toughness. Rhys points out that we say anywhere from a hundred to a couple hundred words a minute to ourselves, and if that’s negative self-talk, it prompts a physical reaction in our body.

‘Start positive self-talk by talking to yourself into the situation, how you’re going to respond, how you’re going to react, and how you’re going to get through it.’

Tip #4 – Nutrition

Your nutrition has to be on point, especially if you’re expected to be switched on, looking after someone in an executive protection role. Many people refer to the gut as the second brain (80 to 90% of your serotonin levels – your feel-good hormones – are produced in the gut) so, it makes sense that what you eat has a direct result on your mood and mental state. If you’re eating badly and drinking a lot of alcohol, you’re going to disrupt the microbiome in your gut and that will have a flow on effect on how you feel.

Tip #5 – Rest, recovery, relaxation

Training hard builds your physical stamina and also sets off your parasympathetic nervous system which destresses you, and you need good rest and recovery after such activity. And let’s not forget that your mind has to switch off and reboot too.

Rhys recommends taking up an activity that allows you to totally switch off from your stressors. For him, it’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Unlike many types of exercise, such as running for example, combat sport doesn’t allow you to think about anything else other than self-preservation. You’re totally engrossed in the moment, and the positive benefit is that it allows your mind to switch off.

A holistic approach to planning travel assures the best results

In regards to an executive protection role, Rhys suggests that if you want to be at the top of your game, you need to focus on all 5 key elements.

‘Nobody wants someone protecting them who’s really fit and trains hard, has their nutrition on point with 8% body fat, but can’t deal with stressful situations; can’t think straight when things go wrong. You really should be thinking about mental toughness or mindset development in a holistic way.’

Rhys puts his military background to good use, not just for people in the security and risk field, but people wanting to achieve their goals. For example, for anyone petrified of speaking publicly or asserting themselves generally, putting these processes in place will completely transform their experience.

‘Planning out your ‘mission’, practising your material, visualising yourself getting through the talk, breathing deeply (especially for a few minutes before speaking), and conducting positive self-talk will really prepare you for dealing with any situation. Remember, create that winning environment, and you’ll always be winning.’

 

Who Needs a Bodyguard and How Do You Hire One? – Part 2

Last week we published a blog post and podcast episode outlining the ins and outs of hiring a bodyguard or executive protection agent. In the second and final part of the series we look into the medical aspects of an engagement, the importance of local knowledge, some of the contractual details and what should happen before an engagement commences (which you can listen to here or keep reading).

At the end of this post you can also find a link to a free guide – How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent – that answers the questions in more detail. The guide also includes a cheat sheet with 37 questions you should ask before hiring a provider.

Should We Look For a Medical Capability  in Our Executive Protection Team?

Many clients neglect to consider this, however, at the end of the day, risk is risk, no matter how it presents itself. Risk from injury or illness should be a consideration when planning travel, conducting a risk assessment, or planning an executive protection operation. Every team should have a dedicated medic within it. The risk will dictate the level of medical support required and will range from basic first aid through to a paramedic or even specific team members with paediatric medicine training if the principals include children.

Be aware that there is a significant difference in the level of training and the capability between a basic level of first aid and that of an EMT (emergency medical technician) and then again that of a paramedic. In the event that a client or principal has previous significant medical comorbidities or conditions, it would be strongly advised to consider the higher clinical skill set of either a capable EMT or a paramedic where available.

What Other Threats Will An Executive Protection Agent Need to Consider When Working With A Client?

Clients primarily, and rightly so, think of the physical threats when looking for an executive protection operative, however, there is much more to the role than that.

In some cases, it literally means protecting the principal client from themselves. VIPs are like anyone and can occasionally make decisions that put themselves or their public image at risk. If they are high profile, they are even more exposed as others may well be watching or even stalking them (i.e. paparazzi) looking for them to slip up.

A professional agent will be on the lookout for such risks and discretely step in and make a recommendation to the client that may avoid pending trouble.

How Important Is Local Knowledge For An Executive Protection Agent?

Local knowledge is critical. Executives and VIPs will often travel with their core security team but this should always be supplemented with someone with local knowledge where possible.

As mentioned in our previous post, most providers will team up with a local partner as required. If your prospective provider says they can service you anywhere in the world without local partners you’d best be wary of them as the service will likely be a compromise.

What Are The Typical Insurance Requirements For An Executive Protection Agent?

Most providers will have public liability and professional indemnity insurance that covers their activities. Usually they will also provide travel insurance for their operatives.

If the provider is also providing medical services, it’s prudent to ensure they have medical indemnity cover for this as well.

What Agreements Should We Enter Into With An Executive Protection Agent?

In most cases you should ask the provider to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that covers the provider and their personnel. If you don’t have a corporate NDA, your provider will be able to supply one that suits the project.

In addition, it’s always a good idea to put together and agreed Scope of Works document. The scope of works should spell out the tasks and any assets (personnel and vehicles, etc) that are included.

What Do We Need To Know About Firearms In Relation to Executive Protection?

The use of firearms for a security details is location dependent. In some countries, such as Australia or the UK, it’s illegal for operatives to carry firearms whereas in the USA, it’s legal and common place for operatives to carry them.

When we are travelling to a country where it might be legal to carry firearms, if required, we will partner with or hire local operatives that have the necessary licences and experience to do so. This sometimes means hiring off-duty police officers as part of the team.

Either way, be guided by your provider in relation to this.

On What Basis Does An Executive Protection Agent Set Their Fees?

Providers have to factor in a huge range of variables to work out their executive protection and risk management fees. These can include location, time, complexity of the task(s), assets required, level of threat involved (perceived or otherwise), type of client(s), whether or not family protection is involved and much more.

In some cases the service provided may be quite standard and be subject to a standard price whereas in others the price may be calculated on a bespoke basis.

Another critical factor is timing. Different businesses have different protocols but in our case we run on a three-tiered system – is it critical (12 hours notice), is it urgent (1-3 days notice), or is it routine (4 days notice or more)? The fees for these vary accordingly.

Be cautious about selecting your provider based on cost though. A lower cost provider may well be lower cost for a reason. They may not have the experience or even the confidence to match your other prospects so might be pricing themselves accordingly.

Should I Meet The Team Before Operations Are Underway?

Where possible, a provider will introduce you to the security team in advance but this may not always be feasible due to other project commitments. In these cases, you could ask for bios of the team members for review.

At the end of the day though, it’s best to trust the executive protection provider to assemble the team to meet your needs.

What Kind Of Preparation Does The Client Need To Undergo For An Executive Protection Operation?

While having a security detail might sound ‘easy,’ it actually takes a bit of getting used to. Even for someone who has used a bodyguard before, there may be some adjustments needed when working with a new team.

In most cases, a simple briefing of the principal client at the beginning of an operation will do. During the briefing the team may be introduced and some basic protocols will be shared. The team members will have additional protocols or ‘actions on’ but the client will not need to know most of these.

The most important things for the client to know are what will happen if a threat occurs.

In some cases, more detailed preparation may be needed. This might include ‘contact drills’ or a rehearsal of vehicle switching but this is usually only for high risk situations or high profile individuals.

Conclusion and Free Guide

There is more to executive protection than you might expect and, for the uninitiated, you can easily make mistakes when sourcing a close protection provider. To help you with the process we’ve produced a comprehensive guide – How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent – which includes a cheat sheet with 37 questions you should ask before hiring a provider. Enter your details below to access the guide.

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And of course, if you are seeking a provider or even just want to have your risk assessed, please contact us at Panoptic Solutions. We’d be glad for the opportunity to discuss this with you and, even if we aren’t a suitable provider for you, we will be able to make recommendations or assist you with finding someone.

How to Protect Executives and Board Members Against Hostile Shareholders and Protesters

Google “shareholder meeting attack” and you’ll be amazed at the number of stories that come up. Most of them are about non-violent attacks – protest groups, people launching hostile bids or shareholders complaining about executive salaries or positions. But, violent or not, looking at the Google results (and reading this blog post or listening to this podcast episode) you’ll soon see why it’s imperative for CEOs and prominent company executives to have executive protection and risk mitigation strategies in place.

Can executives and board members really be attacked during meetings?

Unfortunately, there are all too many examples of assailants managing to attack executives at board meetings or events. In recent time, here in Australia, Qantas Airlines CEO Alan Joyce was set upon by a pie-wielding protester. A man managed to walk in, uninvited, to a business breakfast at which Joyce was speaking. He strolled through the hotel, into the meeting room, and made it all the way up to the stage without being stopped by anyone, let alone security, carrying a lemon pie. Imagine what would have happened if that was a knife, or a glass of acid, which isn’t uncommon in places like the UK? The consequences could have been devastating.

Looking at Alan Joyce’s profile, a security professional would have seen there was a high chance of attack considering his previous financial controversies and social commentary. Disgruntled shareholders in financial difficulty might have sought what they perceived as ‘justice’ over the affair. As it happens the assailant, Tony Overheu, was protesting about Joyce’s views on gay marriage which was the topic of a recent public vote here in Australia. But again, a security professional would have known that Joyce’s views on gay marriage could have upset the right wing. It’s a textbook example of why executive protection should be in place for a high-level CEO.

In another recent and related incident, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was head butted by a left wing individual reported to be upset about Tony’s negative stance on gay marriage. And while Tony Abbott, a former amateur boxer, could have no doubt taken care of himself, imagine how things would have gone down if Tony had let loose on a member of the public? It already made front page news!

This attack prompted people to ask whether Australia should consider a protection detail on our former Prime Ministers – there are many nations that do. Though the debate got mixed response, the truth is that any high profile individual would be wise to consider executive protection. We don’t want to see politicians, CEOs or executives embarrassed, assaulted or injured. Security should be seen as an investment in productivity and reputation as well as safety.

What kind of businesses have a higher risk of protest or violent behaviour against executives?

There’s always potential for protesters, issue-motivated groups or politically-motivated groups to disrupt operations, whether that be through attack or causing embarrassment. For example, many people remember the 2010 Nestle shareholder meeting in Switzerland, where a man concealed himself in the rafters, and abseiled down with a banner protesting Nestle’s use of palm oil harming orangutans. Even though no one was hurt, and the intention was ‘good’, it highlighted how someone committed to a cause could go to great lengths and be undetected. It also reminds us that executives and board members need protection not just against physical threats, but the threat of embarrassment and damaged reputation too. That meeting will only ever be remembered for the negative publicity it generated and the ‘scandal’ that Nestle had to manage as a result.

We’ve worked across multiple sectors, financial, mining and construction industries for example, which are generally targeted by left wing and conservation protestors. CEOs in big business and Fortune 500 companies are targets for everything from physical attacks through to embarrassment. Some of the larger construction company executives have a significant risk profile and can be held to ransom by militant unions whose lines of ‘acceptable’ industrial action is somewhat blurred. Such instances include CEOs being targeted physically, by embarrassing them on camera, or by impeding their movements on a site, in their workplace, or to and from their workplace.

In another rather extreme example, Freddy Heineken was kidnapped in 1983, proving that even beer moguls are at risk. So it’s pretty broad.

Do these executives need protection just at meetings, or are there other situations where they might be at risk?

It’s not just at shareholder meetings that executives are open to attack. If the company is in the red, or not doing well, there are likely to be disgruntled shareholders. But even at board meetings, it’s a wise move to have trained static executive protection security checking off IDs as people come and go, making sure the room has the right people in it and the uninvited aren’t getting in, organising secure transfers and transportation to and from the actual location. Many board members who fly in and out of Australia to conduct meetings tend to do other activities outside of work, like going to sporting events. We’ve provided executive protection, secure transfers and transport for those events, which might include going to the event space prior to them getting there and doing a full advance.

If executives are travelling for business, (and we discussed this in episodes two and three of the Wheels Up podcast), it’s always a good idea to either consult with a risk management firm or have someone locally provide them with security and a safety support.

At what point should a board or an executive team bring in a professional to help or at least have their risk assessed?

We suggest the sooner you can start planning the better. Obviously, there are specifics that will take a while to lock down and sometimes this can’t be done until the eleventh hour, but the bulk of the planning should be done well in advance.

Should people attending shareholder meetings or business breakfasts or similar go through a security screening, or is that taking things too far?

Security should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It doesn’t need to be overly intrusive – a security guy with a wand – but security should always be paramount. It’s not just the CEO at risk, it’s anyone involved in the meeting. And don’t forget, there’s a duty of care to everyone present to ensure they’re in a safe environment.

It’s the job of a security team or an executive protection operative to weigh up the risk of their high-profile person and make a decision whether they need to step in and intercept a potential threat or not. So, whether that be a pie in the face, a knife, acid, or just someone who wants to abseil a building and disrupt a meeting, an executive protection operative will identify that and make the right risk assessment. Without that operative there, you’re leaving yourself open.

For more information about how and when to hire an executive protection agent, readers/listeners are invited to sign up below to download our free book – How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent – Who Needs A Bodyguard And How Do You Hire One? – or to contact us directly.

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Gold Coast Security Firm search for Aussie in Malaysia

Gold Coast Security Firm Panoptic Solutions on International Search Case

Private security team members from Gold Coast Security Firm Panoptic Solutions are helping in the hunt for an Australian woman missing in Malaysia says she hasn’t touched her bank accounts.

Panoptic Solutions operations manager Ben Hosking, coordinating the search plan from the Gold Coast Security Firm, whilst his colleague Troy Claydon is on the ground in Malaysia, said all scenarios for her disappearance remained on the table.

Annapuranee Jenkins, 65, has not been seen since she got out of an Uber after leaving a dental appointment in Penang, Malaysia on December 13.

Mr Hosking said she didn’t have her passport or phone with her but was believed to have a bank card or cards and her accounts had not been touched.

“She had her bank cards but hasn’t accessed them. That is why you could suspect foul play may have occurred because she hasn’t touched any of those accounts,” he said yesterday.

Mr Claydon was helping her son in Penang widen the search area yesterday and applying for approval required locally to parade a mannequin dressed as Mrs Jenkins in hope of sparking memories of anyone who might have seen her.

Mr Hosking said they were treating the operation as a missing person inquiry given the length of time since she was last seen.

EARLIER: A CRACK squad of ex-military and police from Gold Coast Security Firm Panoptic Solutions are leading an international hunt for an Australian woman who mysteriously “vanished” holidaying in Malaysia.

The desperate Brisbane-based son of missing South Australian Annapuranee “Anna” Jenkins has hired private high-end Gold Coast Security firm Panoptic Solutions in a bid to track her down.

Mrs Jenkins, aged in her mid-60s, was on holiday with her Vietnam veteran husband Frank Jenkins, 70, in Penang, Malaysia, when she disappeared on December 13.

Gold Coast Security Firm search for missing Aussie

Annapuranee Jenkins, Australian Citizen who is missing in Malaysia since December 13.

She had gone alone to a dental appointment before catching an Uber — seemingly en route to visit her mother in a Penang rest home. But a local police chief has told local media her driver dropped her 4km from the intended destination at her request.

She has not been seen since, local media have reported.

Gold Coast Security Firm Panoptic Solutions founder Troy Claydon has been in Penang for a week, leading the family’s private search and told the Gold Coast Bulletin by all accounts she was of completely sound mind.

Mr Claydon said there was no known rift in the family. “It’s an odd case.”

The circumstances of her last known movements were “unusual”, Mr Claydon said, adding she didn’t have her passport or bank cards and where she allegedly asked to be dropped off was an “odd location”.

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Troy Claydon who founded Australian and Gold Coast Security Firm, Panoptic Solutions to provide high-end private security is on the hunt for a missing Australian citizen in Malaysia. Photo: Regi Varghese

“There is CCTV footage of the driver departing without her but no other footage.

“There are CCTV cameras along the main road but the local police didn’t check them in time and they have now been wiped over.”

Panoptic operations manager Ben Hosking, a former search and rescue assistant co-ordinator for the Northern Territory police, is helping co-ordinate the hunt in Penang from the Gold Coast.

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Panoptic Solutions founder Troy Claydon posts up ‘missing person’ posters around Penang, Malaysia, where Annapuranee Jenkins vanished on Dec. 13, 2017. Mr Claydon is heading up the family’s hunt to try and find her.

A photo supplied by Panoptic Solutions from CCTV shows her leaving the Jen Hotel where she and Frank were staying on the day of her disappearance, while he looks on in the background.

Local media reported she asked her Uber driver to drop her at Jalan Scotland instead of her actual destination, the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Batu Lanchang.

The place she was last seen when dropped off on Scotland Rd is a busy intersection but it is unclear why she asked to be let out where she did.

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A view of George Town in the city of Penang, Malaysia, where Australian citizen Annapuranee Jenkins went missing on Dec. 13, 2017 and hasn’t been seen since. She was there on holiday with her husband and to visit her mother who lives there.

Mr Claydon said the dentist and Uber driver had both been spoken to and their stories appeared to “check out”.

The driver had taken them on the route where he drove her and was “distraught” about the disappearance.

Mr Claydon said they remained open to all scenarios — including her having had some sort of medical episode through to being the victim of foul play or an abduction.

“There is potential she has got into another vehicle, whether forcibly or voluntarily.

“We know she doesn’t have her passport, doesn’t have a mobile phone, doesn’t seem to have any cards. It’s obviously quite concerning.

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One of the flyers being posted up around Penang, Malaysia for missing Australian citizen Annapuranee Jenkins, who goes by Anna or Ranee. she has been missing since Dec. 13, 2017 after exiting an Uber on 68 Jalan Scotland, Penang following a dental appointment.

“It is frustrating for everyone and you have to feel for the family.”

The missing woman’s son, who said he knew Panoptic team members via a mutual military connection, said he hired them in the hope of a breakthrough.

“We were struggling to get any more information from authorities or anyone over here so it’s a bit of a desperate plea,” the son said.

“But we are still fairly positive, we’re operating on the basis no news is good news.”

In their bid to trace where she might have ended up, Mr Claydon said they had walked the route from where she was dropped to the rest home. Today, they went back and were catching buses departing from the area to track those routes.

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Gold Coast Security Firm Panoptic Solutions operations manager Ben Hosking compiles search maps from the Gold Coast to help his fellow Panoptic colleague who is in Penang Malaysia, leading the search for missing Australian citizen Annapuranee Jenkins.

They have had a mannequin with them dressed in similar clothes to what she was wearing, hoping it might jog the memory of anyone who might have seen her.

Mrs Jenkins was the primary caregiver for her husband Frank, who suffers from dementia and has since returned to Australia.

The couple, who have been married for 40 years, arrived in Penang on December 5 to visit Mrs Jenkin’s 101-year-old mother, who was sick.

Mr Jenkins said his wife had never gone missing before but in the past 12 months had displayed signs of mental health issues.

He said Mrs Jenkins began believing that people were following her and were out to get her and the family believed she may have gone into hiding.

“We think she might be paranoid about someone tailing her in a car or walking,” he said.

“She’s very religious and she stops out the front of people’s houses and says prayers and some people don’t like that, naturally.

“She thought that everyone was against her.”

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Last known area where Australian citizen Annapuranee Jenkins was seen in Penang, Malaysia. The holidaying woman in her mid 60s from South Australia had been to a dental appointment and was in an Uber when she apparently asked to get out — and was dropped here, near the Driveway of Ramakrishna Ashrama Penang.

Mr Jenkins said the family was extremely worried about Mrs Jenkins and were taking it in turns to travel to Penang to continue to look for her.

“We looked around the churches and hospitals and so forth,” he said.

“And then when I went back (to Australia) my son went over and he stayed there for a week and he went everywhere and dropped flyers and then he came back and then my daughter Jen did the same thing and dropped the signs everywhere and then … (my son) went over again.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade statement said it was providing consular assistance in accordance with the Consular Services Charter to “the family of an Australian woman reported missing in Malaysia”.

“Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment.”

GOLD COAST PRIVATE SECURITY FIRM FOR THE STARS

Members of private security firm Panoptic Solutions tend not to want to see their name up in lights.

The Gold Coast Security Firm of former military and police veterans offers a normally discreet personal protection service to international A-listers and high net worth individuals both here in Australia and internationally throughout Asia.

Past clients include boxing legend Manny Pacquiao — Panoptic operatives shadowed him 24-hours a day during his Brisbane visit last year to fight Jeff Horn. Their client rosters has also seen them look after fortune 500 executives, television personalities and Department of Defence staff.

Private_Security_Australia

Troy Claydon of Gold Coast Seecurity Firm, Panoptic Solutions, which provides Health, Safety and Security Services during a photo shoot at Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast. Photo: Regi Varghese

You won’t ready about that anywhere.

But as Panoptic Solutions operations manager Ben Hosking told the Gold Coast Bulletin today it was taking the unusual step of highlighting its latest case — hunting for the mysterious disappearance of Australian woman Annapuranee Jenkins — because they needed all the exposure they could get.

“With backgrounds in specialist law enforcement and Australian Defence Force personnel our policy is to maintain discreet service provision.

“However, this situation carries enough gravity and we feel that it could be the right thing to do in this instance and break our silence.”

Panoptic_Solutions_Executive_Security_Australia

Troy Claydon and team member of Gold Coast Security Firm Panoptic Solutions, Health, Safety and Security Services at Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast. Photo: Regi Varghese

It was started in 2011 by former Australian Defence Force member Troy Claydon. He had 14 years military experience plus five years in war-torn Iraq as a private security contractor. He returned to the Gold Coast in 2009 and signed up for the Queensland Ambulance Service to train as a paramedic.

He started Gold Coast Security Firm Panoptic Solutions with the aim of offering a bodyguard service by people with high-level paramedic skills.

“If something goes wrong, whether you’re injured or whatever, the first person people look to are the bodyguards,” he told the Bulletin in 2016.

“My plan was always to try and put those two services together — the medical and the security. They go so well together.”

WHO IS ANNAPURANEE JENKINS?

ANNAPURANEE Jenkins, who goes by Anna or Ranee, was born in Malaysia but immigrated to Australia after marrying Frank Jenkins decades ago.

Mr Jenkins, a veteran of the Vietnam War, is an ex-Australian Defence Force member of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). They met in the 1970s while he was stationed at Penang’s RAAF Butterworth.

Mrs Jenkins, in her mid-60s, still travels to Penang four to five times a year to visit her

101-year-old mum who lives there. She has a Brisbane-based son and daughter in South Australia, and two grandsons aged five and 11.

She is the primary caregiver for Frank who has been suffering from dementia.

Her son described her as a compassionate mother and wife who helped the homeless and refugees in South Australia, whom she regularly cooked for.

Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Annapuranee Jenkins should contact any of the following:

Penang RMP on whats app or phone +60 19 411 7572

Jenkins Family on whats app or mobile +61 400 381 593

Panoptic Solutions +61 1300 651 407 or info@panopticsolutions.com

Jakarta bombings abc radio interview

At approximately 1030 hrs, local, on 14 January 2016, what is believed to be a cell of five terrorists launched an attack on Jalan Thamrin in Central Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, centred on the Sarinah shopping mall and office tower. The attack commenced with an assault on a police post outside the building and moved to the carpark in the vicinity of a ‘Starbucks’ on the ground floor of Sarinah. Reports conflict, however the best estimate is six explosions were heard during the attack along with a sustained period of small arms fire during the assault that lasted a little over three hours before police gave the ‘all clear’ and declared the emergency over.

During the course of the attack the police post was destroyed and all five attackers were killed along with two civilians, including one westerner – again, at the time of writing, the nationality of the deceased westerner is unclear however the most reliable reports state the nationality to be Canadian (with a Dutch citizen seriously wounded). Reports of police casualties appear incorrect.

ISIS have since claimed responsibility for the attack and warned of more to come.

Click this link to listen to Panoptic Solutions discuss the recent terror attack in Jakarta. with ABC radio.

The Psychology of Risk. An Interview with Dr Gavriel Schneider

How do high levels of comfort and safety affect our attitude toward risk and how does this impact our level of preparedness and ability to respond to risky situations?

In this post (and this podcast episode) we interview Dr Gavriel Schneider, an expert on integrated risk management and safety and security. We take a deep dive into the psychology of risk and the influence it has on our planning and response mechanisms.

Dr Schneider has more than 21 years’ experience operating and teaching within the security sector and was the first recipient of a Doctor of Criminology Degree with a specialisation in security management. He also has a Master of Technology Degree in Security Risk Management. He’s currently the CEO of Risk2Solution, a group of companies providing services in the risk management space and the author of two books, Can I See Your Hands – A Guide To Situational Awareness, Personal Risk Management, Resilience and Security and Beyond the Bodyguard: Proven Tactics and Dynamic Strategies for Protective Practices Success.

The Psychology of Risk Explained

In Dr Schneider’s words,

“The psychology of risk looks at the way we make decisions in our own minds, how we make decisions around others, and then how decisions are made at a group level.”

He explains that one of the biggest problems risk management professionals find is that clients or prospective clients tend to assess risk based on their own history or their perception of a situation. This in turn gives them a distorted view of reality.

Most of these people have either: a) had little exposure to real risk and thus don’t have the skills required to be attuned to risk or to manage it, or b) they have had exposure to risk but have not had any specific problems so assume that the risk is actually low. The opposite is actually the case as the more exposure they have to risk, the higher the likelihood is that something might go wrong. He sums up this position saying,

“People confuse luck with risk management and there’s a very different perspective from a business traveller who might arrive at an airport, go to a hotel, go to an office, repeat that cycle for two days and then go back to the airport to somebody who’s actually going to be out and about with no support behind them.”

He gives the example of a business executive who had travelled to Nigeria four or five times without incident. When a project came up that required a larger delegation to travel there, most of whom had never been to the country, he was advised to invest in some security. His response was, “No I’ve been there five times and nothing’s ever gone wrong and you guys are just being paranoid.

He even cites examples of clients who try to lose their protection team just to prove that they can. At the other end of the spectrum, Schneider finds clients who do have a reasonable perception of their risk, but then change that perception once they realise how much it will cost to manage it.

“The conversation might start with ‘Money’s no object, I just need to be protected.’ When you tell them what it will actually cost all of a sudden they try to bargain you down and go, ‘Can I get away with one or two guys instead of the four guys you want to send?’”

It Starts With The Individual

Schneider says that corporate travel and security policies are only as effective as the people responsible for complying with them.

If you can’t even look at how you make decisions yourself, then it doesn’t really matter how effective your corporate policies are or how effective response services are. It does start with the individual.”

He refers to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a five step model where the first two layers are concerned with basic issues of security and safety and the remaining levels relate to psychological and self-actualisation issues.

“One of the problems we’ve got when we take first world travellers is that many of them have grown up in a world where they’ve never had to worry about safety and security. They’ve always been safe, they’ve always had food to eat, they’ve never had anything go wrong. All they’ve been worried about is, “Do I have a great job?” “Have I found love?” “Does my life have meaning?”

The problem is, if people have never thought about safety and security, and they expect to be able to manage or deal with a situation that they’re not equipped to, it comes down to luck. And the luck then comes back to an instinctive response, where they might freeze, they might panic, they might fight, they might flight and there’s no ability to control which option they take if something went wrong, which is really risky when you start looking at it.”

Dr Schneider says we need to learn how to make decisions both from a strategic angle and also from a tactical angle. This also includes the occasional need for an instinctive decision to be made and this is where typical first world travellers are lacking in skill. A well trained security detail will however have these skills well developed. Even where it’s not practical for a security detail to travel with you, travellers can reduce their risk dramatically by getting a pre-deployment brief or pre-deployment training from a suitably qualified provider.

Silo Busters

Meanwhile, at the group decision making level, Dr Schneider says half the battle is often in getting different departments in an organisation to coordinate with each other.

“We’ll use the term silo busters. Within organisations there’s often a safety department, a security department if they’re lucky, there’s a risk department sitting somewhere, there’s a governance and a corporate oversight structure very often. In other organisations they’ve even got travel departments. None of these people talk to each other.

For us, the real risks actually sit in the gaps between those silos.”

The risks he refers to are individuals who often end up making a choice based on the wrong criteria or their own personal experience which doesn’t reflect the reality of a situation.

“If you think of the way your own head works, we compartmentalise things so that it’s easier for us to make decisions. Most decisions are made on cognitive biases or heuristics, and they’re not actually made on facts.

We tend to relate to what we know instead of trying to figure out new stuff and interpret it. As a result, you get somebody who goes, ‘I went to Bali and nothing happened to me, therefore If I go to [insert name of country] I will be fine.’

Or, ‘Everybody says South Africa was so dangerous. When I went there, nothing happened to me so therefore everywhere else in the world is probably safe.’”

He goes on to say that this attitude is reflected in the corporate environment with a sense of apathy where risk isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.

“One of the challenges I think we’ve seen is that activities like risk management for organisations have become tick the box, as opposed to really adding value.”

The Changing Context of Threat

Dr Schneider points out that most people tune out of the changing reality of threat, seeing it as something that happens to someone else. Despite several horrific events causing loss of life and 15 ‘near miss’ terrorist incidents in Australia between 2014 and 2016, most Australians still distance themselves from risk.

“The threat context in general has changed for the average citizen in Australia, yet most of them haven’t realised this. ‘If I haven’t seen this before, I don’t believe it’ll happen to me.’

Even if you have seen it, if you look at what happened in Melbourne [pedestrians being run down] or you look at what happened in the Lindt Café, or you look at the terrorist incidents that are happening pretty regularly now, the average citizen turns around and is still in a state of denial.”

Situational Awareness

At the other extreme, he cites examples of those who are so regularly exposed to risk that they let their guard down to the extent that it puts them at even higher risk. They lose what industry insiders call ‘situational awareness’ which Schneider describes as “being aware of the right things”.

He recalls an incident where he picked up an ex-military friend at an airport in South Africa and briefed him about keeping the car windows up and doors locked to reduce the risk of robbery.

“As we were driving out of the airport he was looking around and everyone else in at least 50% of the other vehicles had their windows open and people on cell phones or distracted. He said, ‘You know you’ve just given me the briefing. Why are these people behaving in a way that’s contrary to the threats you’ve identified?’

This comes back to that level of denial and apathy. The biggest challenge we’ve got is being situationally aware takes work and it takes effort.”

Dr Schneider knows the real dangers only too well. He received a phone call one night in South African telling him that his mother and stepfather had been in an attempted robbery and his stepfather had been shot in the head. He said this moment was pivotal in his decision to write his second book, Can I See Your Hands – A Guide To Situational Awareness, Personal Risk Management, Resilience and Security.

“For me it was one of those moments in my life where I thought, ‘It actually doesn’t matter how good people like us [security experts] get because we’re not here when our loved ones need us.’

It’s been a little bit of a lifelong pursuit for me to try and translate the knowledge that security professionals have to a format the everyday person would read it, so the book is aimed at the everyday person.

This is knowledge every person should have. This should be taught in school. Everybody should have these fundamental skills. The fact that we don’t is a testament to the level of denial we live in.”

He stresses the importance of not overdoing our level of preparedness and points out that simply being more prepared than most is often enough to keep you out of trouble.

“Being paranoid is worse than not being vigilant at all because you work through that limited amount of awareness but you chew through it really quickly. One of the biggest benefits we’ve got is, I don’t have to be the most aware, I don’t have to be the most prepared, I’ve just got to be that little bit more aware and a little bit more prepared than everyone else.

We know from studies in criminology that most criminals select targets based on likelihood of success vs. return and why would I rob you, assault you, attack you, rape you, kidnap you, you name it, if it looks like you’ll see me coming but the guy behind me won’t?”

Resources

Books

Can I See Your Hands – A Guide To Situational Awareness, Personal Risk Management, Resilience and Security
Beyond the Bodyguard: Proven Tactics and Dynamic Strategies for Protective Practices Success

Contact Info for Gav Schneider

Website – Risk2Solution.com
LinkedIn Profile
Email – info@risk2solution.com
Phone (from Australia) – 1300459970

Gold Coast Security Companies – 8 tips to hire quality

With so many Gold Coast security companies, one can find it a challenging task to identify one which provides a professional service. If events and organisations such as the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games & Olympic Committee have questions from the public surrounding the quality of security providers (Skene, 2017) , how then, does the lay person or even a business identify a professional security company on the Gold Coast to engage.

Gold Coast Security Companies – Here are a few tips to assist in identifying the right one for you:

 

1. Queensland Security Firm Licence

This may sound simple, yet there have been in the past security companies in Queensland as well as Gold Coast Security Companies operating with out the correct licencing provided by the Department of Fair Trading.

 

2. Professional Membership

Is the Gold Coast Security Company a member of a professional body such as the Security Providers Association of Australia (SPAAL), Australian Security Industry (ASIAL) or National Security Association of Australia (NSAA). All Queensland security companies are required to be a member of a professional body to remain compliant. Membership is the QLD Governments way of maintaining integrity, accountability, professionalism and good conduct within the industry. Ensure that security company you look to engage has membership.

 

3. Adverse Media Reports

Conducting a basic web search will provide you with results of any adverse reports on Gold Coast security companies. Companies which are not appropriately registered or are those which have previous, or are in the middle of legal proceedings will be listed. These are companies which should be avoided. The web search may not be able to advise which is the best security company on the Gold Coast to engage, but it will provide you with an indication of which to avoid.

 

4. Security Companies Scope of services

Ensure the security company you are engaging provides the type of services you are looking for. For example, engaging a Gold Coast security company which specialises in mobile patrols wont be they type of security company you will want to provide executive protection or bodyguard services, furthermore, they may not be the type of company you need which will provide corporate security for events or workplaces. Always ask about the services they provide and do your research on what they specialise in.

 

5. Website

Does the security company you are looking to use have a website? If so what information is on it? Is it clear and succinct? Where is the office located? Does it include an office on the Gold Coast? What type of services does it outline on the site? Is the information laid out in an organized and easy to read way? Is there information about the company and its personnel? If not why not? A reputable Gold Coast security company will have a quality website which represents their professionalism.

 

6. Staff/Personnel

A professional Gold Coast security company will provide access to expert security consultants and operatives with backgrounds ranging from Law Enforcement, Military, Emergency Services and Corporate Security.

 

7. Services which compliment security

No, we’re not talking about carpet cleaning…A professional security company will have other services within its scope which compliment security. For example, Panoptic Solutions provides security medics which embed into security teams to ensure that a immediate medical response is available to clients at the exact time they need it. Whether this be within an Executive Protection detail or embedded into a team providing security at a Gold Coast function, you will be able to access immediate pre-hospital emergency medical professionals.

 

8. Local Knowledge

If your engaging Gold Coast Security Companies, it makes sense that the security company has knowledge of the local area. From Beenleigh to Coolangatta, a local Gold Coast Company will be able to support the population with all their security and needs. If you are engaging a security company to provide secure transportion for clients, you want to ensure they know the area and can transport clients from point A to B not just safely but confident that they will make the correct location.

 

For more information on how a Gold Coast Security Company can assist you, contact the team at Panoptic Solutions by emailing us at info@panopticsolutions.com , calling +61 1300 651 407 or submitting an enquiry here

 

Want to keep up to date on travel health, safety and security? Why not subcribe to the Wheels Up Podcast where we discuss all matters safety and security. Click the PODCAST LINK and then subscribe.

Gold Coast Security Companies article citations

Works Cited for

Skene, K. (2017, September 13). goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/. Retrieved from Gold Coast Bulletin: http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/crime-court/training-for-security-guards-under-spotlight-as-4200-rally-for-gold-coast-commonwealth-games/news-story/6e88a1cc722106839cc47cd80534b194

Safety and Security for Journalists and Media

When most people think of executive protection, or bodyguards in general, they tend to think of VIPs, celebrities, and high net worth individuals (HNWI). Though they may not always travel to hazardous locations, their risk is enhanced by virtue of their position or status. For journalists and media crews though, travelling to hazardous locations is often part of the job, thus provision sometimes needs to be made for risk management and personal security.

In some cases the risk is very high. Anyone who has seen the movie, Whisky Tango Foxtrot or read the book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker, will have a sense of how high that risk might be. Even allowing for the artistic license that Hollywood inevitably takes, there is no doubt that journalists and media crews find themselves in risky situations. In this post, and this podcast episode, we take a look at some of those risks and how they can be mitigated.

What’s the difference between executive protection for VIPs and safety and security for journalists and media crews?

I’ve been saying for some time that security is really just a bi-product of the service that we provide and that service is essentially moving people from point A to point B. A security for journalists and media project still requires us to transport and protect so, in essence, the primary goals are the same but the planning and execution will vary considerably.

The risk profile of a journalist and their crew in a war zone or meeting with criminal figures is clearly different to the risk profile of a pop star visiting a shopping mall. And the resources will vary considerably also.

At the VIP and executive end, comfort and style will play a larger role, with 5 star hotels and stretch limos being part of the execution. With news and media projects though, budget accommodation and vehicles that blend in might be more appropriate and affordable.

In essence, journalists are all about getting into the action, whereas VIPs and high net worth individuals are all about avoiding it.

The planning for a media project will be determined by whether the location(s) to be visited might be considered hostile, which covers countries with active war zones, Syria and Afghanistan for example, or volatile, which includes countries that have an inherent safety risk, such as parts of Africa, Latin America, Papua New Guinea and so on. The war zones have risks such as roadside bombs or IEDs (improvised explosive device) while the latter carries risk of kidnapping, armed assault and the like.

Some projects, however, are in locations that are neither hostile or volatile and can be considered benign to a degree. We’ve provided security for journalists and supported television crews in Hawaii, Australia, Singapore and other ‘soft spots’ where there just happened to be an element of risk that warranted a protective presence. As is usual practice, we team up with local providers to make sure the job gets done effectively.

Boots on the ground

A typical example of a project in a volatile zone would be one where we supported a freelance journalists covering stories in Basra during the Iraq war. He outlined the goals of his trip and the locations he was hoping to visit and we provided a risk brief on those locations. The risk brief outlines the conditions he was exposing himself to. We then also provided a full orders brief, which essentially covers what to do when in the area, such as honouring the local customs, etc.

His budget stretched to an armed multi-national team, including local personnel, so we were able to provide a high level of support and threat analysis as the project unfolded.

A key part of this project, and any project in fact, is that we developed a high degree of trust with the journalist right from the start. In any situation, it’s important for the client to understand that if the protection team says it’s time to move out, then it really is time to move out. Without trust, that message just won’t get through.

An additional benefit of this trust is that it allows the journalist and their crew to focus on their work knowing that their backs are covered.

Meanwhile, an example of a project in a volatile zone was when we travelled with a journalist and production team to remote parts of Indonesia to gather material for a story exposing a slavery ring. A sophisticated criminal element was luring fishermen from other parts of Asia with the promise of high wages then enslaving them by holding their passports and preventing their return home.

This project required considerable planning and, because we had to keep a low profile and be reasonably mobile, we had to travel with a small security team. Working with trusted locals, or ‘fixers’ we embedded with the production crew and had to fit in with they wanted and what they needed and, at the same time, provide them with the right advice.

For us, it was about getting the production team as close to the story as possible but, at the same time, attempting to mitigate the risk. It even included managing to get one of them onboard one of the fishing boats without being detected, and then get them off again safely. It was a challenging but rewarding project.

Importantly, in both of these cases, the journalists got what they needed and without coming to harm. Had they not had an expert risk management team with them, it’s doubtful they would have got their story without meeting some sort of misfortune along the way.

Part of the adventure

A key part of any risk management project is to remember that it’s not our role to set the agenda. With journalists, they usually have a pretty adventurous spirit and take more risks than most people. Rather than trying to eliminate the risks, we see our role as helping them to manage it. Safety and security for journalists is about working in with them and providing expert advice.

As much as possible, we try to think of ourselves as being part of their crew, rather than being a separate crew that has a different set of goals. It’s their show, their gig, and our job is to support them in it. We are there to manage expectations rather than to spoil the show so to speak.

As often as not, this means coming up with alternative approaches to a task rather simply saying, ‘No, it can’t be done’. On the rare occasion that we do say it can’t be done, it will be with very good reason and only after all other options have been explored.

Travelling solo

With the advent of mobile phones and camcorders, it’s often the case that a journalist will travel without a production crew. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid risk management or bypass a security presence when it might still be in their best interests to do so. Just because you’re travelling solo doesn’t mean that safety and security for journalists or media goes out the window.

A single journalist recording their own video and/or audio and covering their own logistics is already doing the jobs of multiple people. To add risk management on top of that means something often has to compromise. Usually that will be the risk side of things as it’s not a core skill of the journalist.

Where possible it makes sense to travel with a security presence. Rather than slowing you down, they will actually help get the job done quicker and probably to a higher standard.

Where that’s not possible, consideration should at least be given to having a risk assessment and briefing conducted prior to departure. Even logistics such as hiring a vehicle can be fraught with risk as you can often end up with an unkempt vehicle running on bald tyres. A risk management team can help source vehicles, and local drivers if necessary, that are safer and more suitable for the job. If nothing else, a local driver can help the journalist blend in and make their presence less obvious

Travelling incognito

As a rule, journalists want to stand out on the media, but a key part of security for journalists is to keep a low profile out in the field. We often recommend travelling incognito to support this. We suggest using an assumed name and company when booking accommodation or meeting drivers so as to not draw attention.

This may not be possible when covering official functions or events and sometimes the equipment being used is a give away but, wherever possible a minimal footprint is preferable.

This is especially true in countries that have tight censorship laws or where there might be political unrest.

Kidnapping

Kidnappings have happened before to journalists and will certainly happen again and someone who prepares for it is obviously going to be in a better position than someone who doesn’t.

We actually run a ‘Surviving Captivity’ program, primarily designed to highlight what you will experience after being captured and what you can do to minimise the chances of being kidnapped. It’s also an education session on what goes on behind the scenes of a typical kidnap situation.

While it’s not practical to deliver the full content of the program here, there are some fundamental actions and principles to keep in mind if you’re ever in a kidnap situation.

  • Leave breadcrumbs before the fact. Keep family members, your workplace and your embassy appraised of your movements so that in the event that you go missing, they at least have an idea of where to start looking for you.

  • Take a deep breath. Expect that you’ll be going through an emotional roller coaster that covers fear, dread, anger, confusion and helplessness. Knowing that those emotions are coming will help you respond to them rather than react to them when they arrive.

  • Kidnappings are usually ‘business transactions’. Except in rare occasions where the captors are looking to make a political or ideological statement, expect in most cases that they are looking to make an exchange of some sort. Know that it’s likely that these negotiations are going on in the background and a good deal of resources are probably being assembled to support your release.

  • Expect to be uncomfortable. No explanation necessary.

  • Be as aware as possible of your surroundings. How many people appear to be on site? Which way does the sun seem to travel through the day? What sort of vehicles are being used? Can you hear trains, boats or planes nearby? You may not have access to all your senses and will likely lose track of time but gather whatever clues you can as they might be useful either for your own rescue or to support someone else going through the same thing later on.

Nothing is a substitute for proper training for this situation though so reach out to us if you want more information about the Surviving Captivity training. Though it’s not as intense as a military version of the program, it is run by former special forces and intelligence operatives so covers the subject in considerable detail.

3 Quick Tips to Wrap Up

1 – Even if you aren’t entering a hostile or volatile environment, any travelling journalist or production crew would be well advised to review our travel tips in episode two and three of the Wheels Up Podcast.

You can also download our Business Travel Safety and Security Check List by entering your details below prior to travel.

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2 – Before heading off, reach out to a reputable security and risk-management company. Find out if they provide hostile environment awareness training, (or HEAT training). That’s something that we also do here at Panoptic Solutions but there are various other companies out there that offer that as well. Make sure that the course covers a medical aspect within it as well because medical risk increases exponentially in some of the volatile areas you may go to and a few precautions can make all the difference.

3 – Talk to a risk-management provider about a ‘fixer’ or a trusted source in-country. Obviously the gold standard would be to have a security consultant travel with you or meet you in location but if you don’t have the means, then discuss what options you’ve got within your budget. It may just be about arranging a trusted driver or secure transportation in the locations you are going to.

Seek help, even if you think you can’t afford it

Even if it’s not an option to have a security team travel with you, establishing a relationship with a risk management or executive protection company in advance could you give you an opportunity for some ‘long-distance advice’ if needed. Security for journalists and media teams can include sound advice.

We did some prep work with a media crew heading to South America not long ago and they were going to some rather volatile regions and associating with some rather unpredictable characters. They chose not to utilise our services in the end but we continued to provide them with advice while they were in transit as we were rather concerned and worried about their safety.

Journalism is hard enough as it is but if a compromise on safety is necessary, it shouldn’t be an all or nothing deal. It costs nothing to make an enquiry and it could save a whole lot of heartache to do so.

Contact Panoptic Solutions to discuss safety and security for journalists or your media team. Our expert security conslutants have years of experince working with media. Call +61 1300 651 407 or email us info@panopticsolutions.com

2 – Before heading off, reach out to a reputable security and risk-management company. Find out if they provide hostile environment awareness training, (or HEAT training). That’s something that we also do here at Panoptic Solutions but there are various other companies out there that offer that as well. Make sure that the course covers a medical aspect within it as well because medical risk increases exponentially in some of the volatile areas you may go to and a few precautions can make all the difference.

3 – Talk to a risk-management provider about a ‘fixer’ or a trusted source in-country. Obviously the gold standard would be to have a security consultant travel with you or meet you in location but if you don’t have the means, then discuss what options you’ve got within your budget. It may just be about arranging a trusted driver or secure transportation in the locations you are going to.

Seek help, even if you think you can’t afford it

Even if it’s not an option to have a security team travel with you, establishing a relationship with a risk management or executive protection company in advance could you give you an opportunity for some ‘long-distance advice’ if needed. Security for journalists and media teams can include sound advice.

We did some prep work with a media crew heading to South America not long ago and they were going to some rather volatile regions and associating with some rather unpredictable characters. They chose not to utilise our services in the end but we continued to provide them with advice while they were in transit as we were rather concerned and worried about their safety.

Journalism is hard enough as it is but if a compromise on safety is necessary, it shouldn’t be an all or nothing deal. It costs nothing to make an enquiry and it could save a whole lot of heartache to do so.

Contact Panoptic Solutions to discuss safety and security for journalists or your media team. Our expert security conslutants have years of experince working with media. Call +61 1300 651 407 or email us info@panopticsolutions.com

“I’m just a driver” – so what’s the difference?

Panoptic Solutions was previously involved with a task where the client utilised the services from two separate security providers. Although not ideal, it is sometimes unavoidable due to commercial reasons. The client’s intent can still be met with some flexibility and professionalism by both entities.

Panoptic Solutions provided the advance and EP agents, while the second company was contracted to provide security drivers. Due to limited advance time we requested the drivers to provide the route recons/plans, allowing our team to conduct the site/venue recons and liaison. This request was met with the comment “We are just providing security drivers and we only have to drive, not here to do advances”. If indeed the company was providing driving services I may have understood their reluctance to be a team player on this, however, the company was another security provider and specifically stated they were contracting out as “security drivers”. So the question is, when does a “driver” go from being a “just a driver” to being a “security driver” and what should the expectations be of them if they then represent themselves as one?

Expectations.

Inclusive of SOP’s which our drivers are required to abide by, we also expect them to:

  • Know what a route reconnaissance is and how to conduct one unsupervised,
  • Understand how to draft a route recon report;
  • Know how to compile a stick/route map;
  • Understand the vehicles capabilities which the are driving;
  • Maintain the cleanliness of the vehicle;
  • Ensure the vehicle is mechanically sound;
  • Conduct vehicle sweeps (external & internal) prior to and on completion of task,
  • Understand and have practiced counter surveillance drills.

Drivers are an integral part of any EP team and should have a thorough understanding of how they fit in to the team. This is even more important when conducting intercompany operations supporting a client. It may be two companies, but its always one team. Food for thought….