Stalker Security – One In Five Women Are Affected

Stalker Security

When we think of stalkers, death threats or stalker security we tend to think of it as being a problem for high profile personalities or celebrities. Most situations involving the everyday layperson rarely make the news unless the circumstances are drastic, but it is a problem much more common than most of us realise.

In this post and this podcast, we look at the nature of stalking and stalkers and how to respond to stalking situations.

The Newsmakers

Typically, the media gravitates to situations involving celebrities.

In recent months Australian actress Margot Robbie shared in an interview that death threats are proving to be a costly expense for her, not just emotionally but in real dollar terms through additional stalker security requirements and background checks into the suspected stalkers.

Taylor Swift and her family have been frequent targets of extremely violent threats and recently international model Bella Hadid successfully applied for a restraining order against a known stalker. We could write pages of high profile examples but this is just the tip of the iceberg and wouldn’t show the extent of the problem for ordinary citizens.

Within Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics did a survey in 2012 and they reported that one in five women will experience stalking at some stage in their life and one in thirteen men will actually experience stalking in their life.

95% of cases where women are stalked involve men as the perpetrator while male victims have a more even split with men and women roughly accounting for 50% of the perpetrator count. Though women are overrepresented as victims in these statistics, they also prove that men are prone to stalking and violence resulting from this activity.

The Stalker’s Profile

Kris Mohandie a US-based psychologist and expert on the subject of stalking and stalker security says stalkers fit one of four profiles.

1. Public figure stalkers. These usually have no prior relationship to the victim and are usually behind the celebrity cases mentioned earlier.

2. Private stranger stalker. Someone who crosses paths with the victim at some stage and for whatever reason chooses them as a target.

3. Acquaintance stalker. Usually a co-worker or a classmate. They may not know the victim intimately but they are acquainted with them in some way.

4. Intimate stalker. Someone who knows the victim well through a close relationship, potentially even an ex-lover or partner. The most common and most dangerous type and often at the centre of domestic abuse cases.

Some stalkers have reasonably harmless intentions and often a victim might be unaware that they are being stalked, but even if the intention is harmless, it still represents a serious problem and a threat to the wellbeing of others.

Stalking also takes many forms. It can be loitering or observation from a distance or it can be an intrusion on a home or other property. On the more aggressive end of the spectrum, it can take the form of violent threats delivered verbally, on paper, electronically or through a third party.

Six Actions To Take If You Suspect You Are Being Stalked – How To Improve Your Stalker Security Posture

1. Early intervention is key to prevent situations from escalating so if you think someone might be stalking you the first port of call is the police. Give them copies of any correspondence, photos or any other evidence you have gathered to demonstrate that there is a problem.

2. Next action is to let family and friends know so they can support you and be vigilant for threatening or harassing situations. In some cases, they may even be at risk themselves so in letting them know about it you are giving them an opportunity to protect themselves as well.

3. If you haven’t done so recently, review the security in your home. Measures such as CCTV cameras, remote monitoring, alarms, security screens and deadlocks can all reduce your risk and help you feel safer.

4. Mix up your routines and take different routes to and from home and work. And where possible, travel with friends and colleagues so you are not unnecessarily exposed while alone.

5. It is also advisable to cut back on social media activity until the threat has abated. Sharing too many insights on where you are or where you plan to be can play into the hands of the stalker. It is better to keep them guessing.

6. As a last resort, you may also need to consider a physical security presence, not a run-of-the-mill security guard that you might find in a shopping mall but someone suitably experienced in close personal protection (CP) and executive protection (EP). They are vastly different fields and the standard of security you will receive from a CP/EP professional will be much higher.  Our free guide “How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent” 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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Expert Help Is Key

The key takeaway for readers to bear in mind is that stalking is serious and not something you should take into your own hands to resolve. Calling your beefy cousins in to help protect you is not the solution and can make things worse. Making counter threats is not the solution either. Stalkers are irrational and unpredictable and often mentally unstable so it’s best to get the experts involved as early as possible.

For more information on stalker security or to discuss threats being made against you or your loved ones, contact Panoptic Solutions or call +61 1300 651 407 and one of our expert security consultants will call you ASAP.

All of these techniques will improve your stalker security awareness and deterrence.

Who Needs a Bodyguard and How Do You Hire One? – Part 1

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the task of hiring a bodyguard or executive protection operative can be overwhelming. Knowing whether you actually need one can be a mystery, let alone knowing what to look for.

With that in mind, we recorded a couple of episodes of the Wheels Up Podcast where we covered what an executive protection agent or operative is, who might need one and how to go about selecting one. Here’s a summary of what we covered in the first episode.

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. We hope you find it useful and welcome your feedback.

What Exactly Is An Executive Protection Agent Or Operative?

What a layperson refers to as a ‘bodyguard’ is known by many terms within the security and risk management industry – executive protection agent/specialist/operative (EP), personal protection operative (PPO), close protection operative (CPO) or simply BG (for bodyguard).

For all intents and purposes, they mean the same thing, but in most cases, an agent or operative will have had formalised training beyond that just needed as a bodyguard. A bodyguard or CPO will generally be assigned to accompany a principal to keep physical threats at bay while an EP will take a broader view of risk management, beyond immediate physical threats.

This might include elements such as doing a risk assessment for a project or company or conducting ‘travel advances’ where a destination is reviewed in advance for risks and planning. Some companies also go further and assist clients with developing security and travel policies to utilise throughout the business.

Who Needs An Executive Protection Service?

Typically people think of high-level VIPs and high net worth individuals (HNWI) with a level of fame as being those who need protection but this is often not the case.

Executive protection is tailored for individuals or teams who are not just concerned about their safety, but who also value their time highly. The ability to move about safely and swiftly can reap rewards that can save your business a loss of productivity and, in turn, increase financial outcomes.

This can include C-level executives, media or film and tv production crews, non-government (NGO) or charity organisations, mining companies with remote workers, medical evac or support teams.

Where Do I Look For An Executive Protection Operative or Company?

The best place to look for an executive protection operative is to ask for a referral from a colleague who has used one. If you don’t have access to a referred company you can search for a one via Google. Search terms to use can include, executive protection agent, executive protection companies, security company, bodyguard company, executive protection operative, bodyguard, close protection agent, close protection operative, or personal protection operative.

Is Executive Protection Only Needed When Travelling or Do You Need Protection At Home As Well?

This is assessed on a case-by-case basis. The risk an executive is exposed to will fluctuate. This level of risk will dictate the response required – e.g. if the company or individual has had recent media exposure or a specific threat has been identified, or even if a shareholder meeting is approaching, each situation will require an individual risk assessment and the response may differ. This may include the requirement for executive protection.

In What Situations Would Family Members Need Protection As Well?

Though it doesn’t happen frequently, family members, particularly children, are used as leverage against high-profile or wealthy individuals, or they may just be at risk of exposure to the paparazzi or members of the public with cameras on their phones. In some cases, they may need a 24-hour security presence, and in others, they may just need monitoring.

What Would I Look For In An Executive Protection Provider?


The most critical criteria to look for in an executive protection company or risk management firm is experience. Find out how long the provider has been in business, ask for a summary of the projects they have completed and, where possible, references of customers they have worked with.

The type of experience the operative or firm has have should also be relevant to the task you are hiring them for. For example, if you are seeking security for fly in fly out (FIFO) mining workers in Asia, an executive protection operative with experience looking after professional tennis players touring Australia with a lack of any experience working in Asia is probably not the right fit for that particular task.

They must also have experience working in the countries you need the service provided, or at least have an affiliation with a local provider.


Expect your prospective provider to have formal close personal protection or executive protection training and to be in a position to provide evidence of that. Research the training provider to see how credible they might be and ask other providers you are considering for their views on some of the training organisations mentioned. The length of training is important. Executive Protection can not be taught in just a few days. There is a difference between qualified and competent.

Note that training as a security guard is different to close protection training so don’t accept this as evidence that a prospect might be suitable.

Licensing Requirements

Different countries and states have different laws about licensing for security and executive protection companies. If your prospective provider doesn’t have a licence for some areas you are travelling to then it’s likely they will partner with another company that does. This is common practice so don’t be disturbed if they disclose this to you.

Other Criteria

It will be worth your while to do some internet research on the provider as well. Google the name of the business and the name of the principal-agent in the business. Check the News tab on the Google search listings to see if they have appeared in the news (for good or bad reasons). Check the LinkedIn profile of the principal-agent to see if their authority is on display. Some security operatives maintain a low profile so this is not an essential requirement but check to see if there are any red flags that might cause you concern.

The financial status of the security or risk management firm may also have some bearing on the quality of service delivered. For example, if the firm requests to be paid 100% upfront, this may, in some cases, be a sign that they are under financial distress and may not be able to deliver the service to a suitable standard. It’s not uncommon or unreasonable for the security provider to request a deposit of up to around 50%, or, if there are significant outlays for the VIP then these expenses may also be requested to be covered prior to the task, eg: a large superyacht may be required for the client – this payment may need to be made prior to the task and may need to be covered by the client rather than the security or risk management provider.

Have them explain their cancellation policy clearly to you, as well. There are obviously expenses that are incurred by the companies once they get the ball rolling, so there may be cancellation fees applicable if the project is withdrawn.

In Addition to Security Services, What Else Can We Expect of an Executive Protection Operative?

The primary role of an executive protection operative is the security/close personal protection and wellbeing of their principal. That said, “wellbeing” may also include tasks that are not always associated with “security”. As long as the safety of the principal is not compromised it’s not uncommon for executive protection operatives to conduct administrative, logistical and facilitation style tasks.

Executive protection is a service-based industry and as such there are additional tasks that may be requested of the operative such as assisting with luggage, arranging tickets to events, ensuring rooms or hotels are set up to a specific standard or even organising laundry in a remote region they are in. This may mean operatives liaise with outside support elements such as personal assistants or executive assistants or it may mean they make the arrangements themselves.

Free Guide – How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent

Hiring an executive protection agent is a critical task. 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. You can access the free guide by signing up below.

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And of course, we welcome any questions or enquiries on the subject via email or phone on +61 1300 651 407.

The Realities of Executive Protection & More – Interview with Steve Albritton – Part 2

In a previous post and podcast episode, we discussed executive protection recruitment and more with Steve Albritton, a respected security industry consultant based in Florida, USA. In this continuation of our discussion, Steve shares how to build a security team from scratch, how to factor medical issues into a risk mitigation task and why staff sometimes need to be at more risk than the principal client. He also breaks down what really goes on behind the scenes of a travel task, what the options are for companies that cannot afford a full security team or to have advances done for them and all the other realities of executive protection.


As more and more businesses look to build security teams and mitigate risk, Steve says the most secure solutions are almost always out of reach for most clients so a compromise is inevitable. This is where the value of the risk consultant comes in as they are best placed to know which compromises will leave the client least exposed to risk.

“I think the biggest thing on building teams and talking to a new client is just, to be honest with them and I would use one word – compromise.

With most companies, I think if you’re upfront with them and let them know that in the security world there is no 100%. Essentially the closer you want to get to 100% of security, meaning anywhere, anytime, all the time, 24/7, means a huge amount of expense. Usually, that expense exceeds what they’re willing to pay for, so when you go in with a new client and actually existing clients, it’s a constant balance of compromise.

It’s getting them to understand that that compromise means, for this much money this is what you’re going to get, and using their profile to build the best mitigation team.”

And even in cases where cost isn’t an issue, sometimes the need for the security detail to be highly visible ‘for show’ can also compromise the risk.


One thing Albritton addresses early on when doing a risk assessment for a client is medical preparedness. Even where there isn’t likely to be an imminent risk of injury, clients often have a medical condition that may put them at risk while travelling. A typical example is an executive who might have a known heart condition or diabetes.

The realities of executive protection show us that teams are more commonly including medics in their detail, either as a dedicated role or performing other security tasks as part of the project.

“Years ago, guys knew first aid and CPR, now it’s pretty much the norm for EMT’s [Emergency Medical Technicians] and paramedics to be involved in the security piece.”


Albritton points out that risk consultants and team leaders with boots on the ground often have to take compromise out into the field.

“That even goes down to things like, on the security side, as a manager or even a security operative, and you’re in another country with your client, you might be the one dictating which helicopter to contract, and telling him, ‘Hey look, we advise you to fly in this helicopter. That one has 10,000 hours on it. Put the staff in that second one.’” 

Where possible though, it’s the security team that makes the compromises necessary to reduce the risk to the client(s) including walking shoreside when you’re in crocodile country.


While an ideal security team will have personnel dedicated to specific roles, that’s not always possible and a traveller might find themselves travelling with a single close protection agent, or in the worst-case scenario, they might be doing DIY executive protection and travelling alone.

“Some of these larger companies are designed to where they have intel analysts, point of interest personnel, they have multiple big teams of executive protection.

Every single one of those roles covers a specific area in the security world, but when you’re talking about the general person travelling, or let’s say one client, and I’ve travelled with clients like this before, one client, one close protection guy, and you’re it… It’s definitely a very difficult job because he’s got to wear multiple hats. He has to be, on Monday night before they’re travelling on Tuesday, he’s the one on the computer trying to find out, ‘Hey are there any issues for where we’re going?’

For example, are there any airport closures in certain locations? He’s essentially wearing about five different hats. You would do that, travelling individually, if you have to wear multiple hats. You don’t have all these specific roles, or you’ve got close protection, an EMT, a security analyst, a threat analysis person doing this, a travel planner booking your flights and making sure you have your hotel rooms. Those are just five different little areas, but when you’re travelling by yourself you have to do it all.”

In these cases, preparedness is essential. Just as a full security detail does as much advance work as possible, sole travellers or those travelling with a single operator need to do the same.

An ideal compromise is to have a security or risk management consultant do a generic advance for you but, if that’s not possible, travellers should at least make themselves familiar with the Panoptic Solutions Business Travel Safety and Security Checklist available at the bottom of this post.


For new entrants into the industry, while it is easier to get started than it used to be, Albritton says they’re usually surprised at what the realities of executive protection roles really entail. He gives the example of cleaning shirts in Africa in the middle of the night. While it’s not technically a security task, having someone on the security team take care of it can often be the lowest risk option, even if other support staff are on hand.

“I would say in my experience, the clients don’t want to know. They want the end product. They don’t want to know how the clothes are washed, they just want clean laundry.”

He explains that maturity and humility are key attributes for any new entrant and makes it clear to those he is mentoring that the quickest way to move up to high level executive protection is to be willing to do whatever needs to be done.

“When recruiting new people, in the end, I look for maturity and humility. If you can find someone that is really mature and they’re very humble, then to me the rest I can get them through the system after that. I don’t mean that you hire people that don’t have the experience, I’m just saying, that then they’re on a fast track, because if they’re exuding humility then you can point to them and say, ‘Go do this, and if you do this, you’re going to move along.’”

Ahead of maturity and humility though, Albritton says problem-solving is essential in the field.

“That’s the number one trait, if they can problem-solve without driving you absolutely nuts, or calling you in the middle of the night with simple things that the average close protection guy should be able to solve, then that’s the key, problem-solving. Getting from point A to point G on their own and being able to solve it.”


For clients looking for risk assessments or hoping to build a team of operatives, or aspiring operatives, or those looking to explore other realities of executive protection, Steve can be reached via or via email at

And for those at the DIY end of the protection scale, we invite you again to download the checklist/infographic in printable pdf by entering your details below.


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Security Business Essentials For Startups

Whether you’re a sole trader, a start-up company in Australia, a DBA (A Doing Business As) or a start-up company in the USA, we all need to navigate our way through the business minefield, irrespective if you’re setting up a security business or another service. This can be a daunting task, especially as a large majority of Security and Risk Management Firms or Companies are established by security operatives/agents/personnel/staff, who have had little to no business experience in the past. It’s one thing to have the technical know-how and the ability to provide an excellent security service or product, it’s an entirely different matter establishing and running a successful security business. Certainly, this is true in my case and that of our colleagues at Op Structure in the USA.

So rather than hoard all the secrets and have you all make the same mistakes, Steve Albritton of Op Structure and myself (Troy Claydon) from Panoptic Solutions decided to share our experiences in the Wheels Up Podcast about how to establish a security business and firm, discuss the setup options you might have, outline some of the mistakes we have made and we provide several tips to help you succeed. Not everyone’s journey is the same, and not everyone will make the same mistakes, but if this article and podcast can provide you with at least one tip or one pitfall to avoid then it’s been worth reading/listening to.

1. Security Business Plan

Before you do anything, draft a business plan. Decide the type of security business and services you wish to provide ie: mobile patrols, risk consulting, guarding, corporate, close personal protection, cash in transit – the list goes on. Work out what you want to provide because it’s not always a case of one size fits all. Is it feasible, is there a need? What makes you different? Draft a SWOT analysis – What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. What capital do you need? What are the ongoing costs? All these need to be included in your business plan. There are many free templates and guides on the web, this Start-Up Guide is an older one produced by John Petty of the University of Technology in Sydney, but still very relevant and very easy to follow.

2. Setting Up Your Business

Sole trader (DBA) vs Incorporated Company (Pty Ltd/LLC) – Talk with an accountant or commercial lawyer/attorney and decide which option is best for you. Your business plan/model will guide your decision here.

3. Budget, Forecast & Cash Flow

It’s important to talk with a qualified and trusted financial professional in the business. Realistically, you will include a budget in your initial business plan, but it doesn’t stop there. You will forever be doing this. Build a budget and try to stick to it. As you start trading you will get a better idea of how to forecast. Be aware that as a business you will have to front of with money on most occasions. Don’t be that guy or company that feeds the line – “I haven’t been paid by our client so you have to wait till I do”. It’s your responsibility to pay your team. You can always have arrangements in place with certain suppliers and providers, which will help with cash flow, but don’t make your team members wait unless you have a prearranged agreement in place. You may have to wait a considerable amount of time before your client pays you, so make sure you can float your operations.

4. Licences and Insurances

Investigate what you need. Each country is slightly different and often each state within those countries differ. Don’t skimp on insurance.

5. Office with a view

It’s great to build your empire, but be realistic about whether you need that corner office on Wall Street. So many businesses these days are mobile. Yes, it’s great to have an office to meet clients and have a secure HQ to operate out of. But the reality is, you can save money and be just as productive working from home until you get to the point where you are big enough to have an office. This said, obtain a PO Box or engage the services of a Virtual office. Don’t post your home address, both for professional appearances and most importantly for security reasons.

6. Mentor

Find one, or two or three. A mentor does not need to be there to hold your hand. They can simply be someone who has been in the industry for some time who you can look to for advice or support. This leads to the next point…

7. Networking

Networking is massive. But be aware there is a difference between networking and being a leech. Networking means introducing yourself to other industry professionals and helping out where you can. It often means sacrificing without want. It’s about building your reputation and your brand. There’s no easy way of doing this and it will take time. Attend networking meetings in your local area, meet other professionals for coffee when it suits them, work in with their schedule, and attend functions or seminars. Also, you can join professionally recognised organisations such as ASIS International,  Protective Security Council,  IPSA UKASIAL, ATAP, SPAAL or the International Protective Security Board. Be prepared to give a lot to networking.

8. Run Your Own Race

It’s human nature to compare and worry about what we’re missing out on, but, by concentrating on the other person, the other security business or the competition you stop focusing on your own product. It’s always good to know what other companies are doing, but don’t compare against them. You will always find a shortfall irrespective of how well you are doing. Concentrate on what you are doing and do it to the best of your ability. This will build your reputation and brand.

9. Marketing

Where do I start… There are so many platforms now to get your message out there, which basically means that there are multiple platforms for marketers to take your money. Website, Social Media, Print Media, Direct Marketing, SEO, PPC, Newsletters, Postcards, Gifts, Skywriting, Buses, Taxis, Radio, TV, and on and on and on it goes… Everyone’s an expert and everyone will tell you their way is the only way and the best way…

Save your money. Start small, allocate a budget and stick to it. Yes, you do need marketing, you MUST have marketing, but it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Lean on contacts you have – can the design your logo? Do they know how to steer social media? If so – ask. Utilise sites like fiverUpwork or freelancer to find a freelance designer, marketer, video producer, SEO or content writer etc who may be within your budget.

A word of warning though – the search can sometimes be a long one and you really need to read reviews before committing. The worst they can say is no. Also, marking isn’t just online, can you attend seminars? Are you confident speaking about a particular subject? If so, ask to be a speaker at an upcoming event. Join LinkedIn, follow industry professionals and contribute to the landscape, be a participant, not just an observer – be creative. Marketing can be an expensive black hole so ease into it and don’t over commit.

10. Rewards Programs

Join them… Join them all. That said, try to pick one airline and fly them as much as you can. It’s not always viable which is why you should join as many as you can. Points accumulate faster than you would have thought. Car rentals, airlines, credit cards etc. Obviously, take into account the financial consideration that goes into earning these points.

11. Business Ethics 101…

Last, but by no means least, be ethical in the way you conduct yourself. Sure, be competitive, but do so on quality. There’s always going to be someone who can do things cheaper, but that doesn’t mean better… In fact, it usually means the opposite. Treat people the way you want to be treated, from client to the driver, the static guard and yes, even your competitor.  You don’t have to like everyone, but you can be respectful. Don’t build your business on lies. Remember, reputation is everything.



Remember in all of this, your business is scalable. Be enthusiastic, be a go-getter, be proactive, but don’t go too hard too fast. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: about 20% of businesses fail in their first year, and about 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year.  Further, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, looking at the survival of businesses (micro to large) over a four year period, of the 2.1 million firms in business in June 2011, only 1.3 million or 62 per cent were still in business in 2015. Take your time, build your reputation and your brand. Word of mouth is key. Clients will come. Business is a marathon, not a sprint!


If you are after any guidance or would like some advice about establishing a security business in the USA you can reach Steve Albritton of Op Structure in the USA via Steve’s LinkedIn account, or …


If you would like any advice or have any questions about setting up a security business in Australia or even Indonesia for that matter, you can contact me, Troy Claydon, via my LinkedIn account.


We won’t give you everything on a silver platter and we won’t do all the work for you, but we are happy to guide you as you navigate your way through hurdles or connect you with the right people.


Learn more about security services in Australia, Indonesia, and the Indo-Pacific region via the Panoptic Solutions website.

Learn more about security and risk management services out of the US and beyond via the OpStructure website.

Don’t forget to go to your Podcast Platform and vote. If you like the show give us 5 stars and leave a comment. We love the feedback!

Executive Protection Personnel – Panoptic Solutions | Russ Price


Executive Protection is all about people. The right people, in the right place, at the right time doing the right job for our clients. Panoptic Solutions prides itself on employing, contracting and engaging the right people. We are fortunate to have a team consisting of former military, law enforcement, emergency services and corporate security professionals. Our Executive Protection Personnel, including Operatives and Agents, come from diverse backgrounds and bring with them diverse skills and experiences.

Former stunt actor, Russell Price, is no different. As well as being one of Panoptic Solutions’ go to Australian Bodyguards and Team Leaders, Russ has worked alongside some of the greatest martial arts actors in the world, like Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Aside from his work as a stunt actor, he has an impressive resume with 10 years in the British Royal Marines, 40 years in the martial arts space and 23 years working within the security industry internationally. Not to mention, he has a 6-dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate and was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2015.

Russ recently sat down with Troy on the Wheels Up podcast to discuss how his previous experiences have shaped his work in the security industry while giving you some practical tips to look out for when travelling.

Executive Protection Personnel  – Highlights Talking to Russ Price

1. How martial arts can help shape a career in security.
2. Acting with Jet Li in one of the coolest fight scenes you’ll see in a movie.
3. Working with Jackie Chan.
4. Why prominent people like Jean-Claude Van Damme need executive protection personnel and close protection services.
5. How to stay alert when travelling.
6. Working with the U.S Secret Services and the European Dignitary Protection Unit.
7. ​Challenges faced when emigrating from the U.K to Australia in the security world.
8. Camp Black – the reboot for brain and body retreat.
9. Ebook – The Seven Golden Secrets.

Don’t forget to go to our previous article and podcast on Business Travellers Essential Pre-Departure Travel & Security Checklist – where you can download a FREE Travellers checklist and be kept up to date with relevant travel and security information.

Introducing Wheels Up Podcast Co-Host Steve Albritton

We’re excited to introduce the new co-host, Steven Albritton, to our Wheels Up Podcast listeners.

Steve Albritton served with the Marines and a state police force in the USA before taking on a role as a security manager for a high net worth individual and family.

Since leaving that role, Steve has established OPStructure, an industry consultancy that is taking on project work but also focuses on executive protection recruitment and team building.

Steve is the principal owner of OPStructure, based out of Florida. He has vast experience in the security world, not only in the USA but internationally. Executive protection is a very different ball game in the USA, so it will be great to get Steve’s view on particular topics and past experiences working within and outside of the USA.

Panoptic Solution’s, Troy Claydon and OpStructure’s Steve Albritton will be bringing you key professionals at the top of their game in specific industries. Together, they will discuss vital safety and security issues. Furthermore, they will be able to provide expert commentary on all matters relating to safety and security from both sides of the world.

Highlights Within This Wheels Up Podcast Episode:

1. Politics moulding the security industry

2. OPStructure overview

3. Mention of ASIS international

3. Challenges faced by smaller executive protection companies

4. Update on Panoptic Solutions

5. What to expect from the Wheels Up Podcast as a team moving forward

Go to Itunes, stitcher or whichever podcast platform you’re using and give us a rating. If you like what we do we would love to see 5 stars! If you have any ideas for the show, leave them in the comments section or send us an email at Tell us what you like or what you don’t like. Want us to interview a particular guest? Then let us know.

A Holistic Approach to Close Protection Services – Interview With Ronin SA Founder Timm Smith

In this episode, you’ll hear from the Ronin SA founder, Timm Smith, who has an unprecedented CV within the personal protection arena. You’ll learn all about Timm’s journey, the creation of Ronin SA and its high standards while learning what it takes to be a Ronin student and graduate.

Close Protection, Close Personal Protection, Bodyguarding or Executive Protection, call it what you will, there is an art to providing a professional service. With a global network of graduates who started as students searching for that level of professionalism,  Ronin SA is cited as one of the most renowned civilian training academies for protection training. Located in Cape Town South Africa, the academy has an unmatched environment that covers all aspects of protection training from firearm competency training to experiencing frontline ambulance shifts, all in the heart of South Africa and its unpredictable climate.

Episode Highlights with Timm Smith, Ronin SA Founder:

1. Differences between the UK and the US for close protection training
2. The evolution of close protection training
3. Battles within a unified war
4. Bringing the medical aspect into the protection space
5. Despite Ronin SA strict application process, their high standards mean 25% of students do not make it to graduation
6. What makes a great Ronin student
7. How do highly qualified doctors hold up against Ronin’s standards
8. What’s next for Ronin SA?

Ronin SA offers advanced world-class expert training throughout the year. There are several courses on offer including their close protection training as well as their emergency care and medical training packages.

Training details are outlined on the Ronin SA website. There is even a pop up where you can talk directly to the staff.

Don’t forget to go to Itunes and give us a 5-star rating if you enjoy the podcast. If you want to read other blogs or listen to more great interviews click this link to go to other podcasts.

If you have any tips or advice on how we can make the podcast better, go to and let us know, or if you just want to know more about what we do, contact us.

Wheels Up Security Podcast Is Back With Some Exciting Changes

Sorry to have left you hanging – we’ve been on a quick breather due to the workload with clients across multiple countries. But the Wheels Up Security Podcast is back! We’ve also made some exciting new changes to the format of our podcast.

In this podcast, you’ll find out about our changes, hear our outstanding lineup of guest speakers for the next several weeks and get a quick update on Panoptic Solutions.

What to Expect Now That the Wheels up Security Podcast Is Back:

Here are the highlights from this week’s episode:
Our latest lineup of guests to appear on the show
Announcing a new part-time co-host.
Update on Panoptic Solutions
Missing persons case, Annapuranee Jenkins.
A quick note on ANZAC Day.

Now that the we’re back, you can listen to the latest update embedded at the bottom of this article.

Don’t forget to go to Itunes or your Podcast platform and vote. The more stars the better!

You can find more episodes on our Blogs page.

Thanks for listening.

12 000 to 15 000 People Are Held Captive Every Year

Are you aware that up to 2,000 people around the world are currently being held against their will in one form or another? What’s worse, somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 people are held captive every year for ransom or as hostages. The fact is, the risk is ever-present whoever and wherever you are, and being prepared to deal with a situation like detainment, kidnapping, or surviving captivity can never be a bad thing. Luckily, there are organisations that provide training for these eventualities, and today we chat with a course instructor from the adverse environments team at Panoptic Solutions about the kinds of strategies he recommends. You can read below for a written summary or listen to the discussion on the Wheels Up Podcast here.

Everyone Is at Risk of Captivity

We’ve discussed the risks faced by journalists travelling overseas in previous podcasts and posts and clearly the wealthy are often targets too. But all kinds of people are held captive and taken hostage for all kinds of reasons. Charity workers in the Philippines have been kidnapped for example, as have other innocents who, it’s assumed by their captors, will be recovered by their governments. Tragically, as we saw with Canadian national Robert Hall in 2016, governments don’t always come to their aid.

Also consider the growing number of incidents where everyday citizens get embroiled in perilous situations, like the siege in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe in 2014. If they were asked before that day, ‘Do you think you’ll ever be involved in a hostage situation?’, not one would have said yes. The news is full of stories of robberies gone wrong and home invasions when people are held captive against their will. That’s why these safety skills and strategies are applicable to everyone.

Training Courses That Help

Panoptic Solutions’ training courses teach all kinds of people how to recognise the risks and realities of hostage situations. Instructors come from elite military, paramedical, and specialist law enforcement backgrounds but the training is not physical – it’s about creating awareness as course instructor John (not his real name) explains:

‘Let me first say, the course is definitely not military-style training. The information is presented in a lecture-style set-up and participants need not worry they’re going to walk in the door and find themselves tied up in the corner being yelled at.’

John discusses the differences between being illegally kidnapped for ransom or held hostage (where you’re a captive) versus being pulled over by the police for speeding and legally taken to the station (where you’re a detainee). If you’re overseas and you break the law, wittingly or unwittingly, you may face a period of confinement and that’s a situation you can be prepared for. Importantly, John’s course includes strategies that help participants avoid those situations in the first place.

‘We provide context, contemporary examples, and explanations of what went right and wrong, working to increase people’s understanding of the world situation and domestically. Prevention is better than cure and our purpose is to help participants avoid trouble in the first place, particularly when travelling overseas. If we can deliver that, we’ve done our job.’

During training sessions, participants get to interact, ask questions and bring their own experiences to the table.

‘People are genuinely surprised at the odds when we lay them out. Though we try not to bombard people with statistics, we do give them enough to get their headspace right and to look at the world a little bit differently without them becoming paranoid. We don’t want people walking around questioning every strange thing that happens! The most common feedback statement we get is, “Wow. I’m surprised – I hadn’t realised that.”’

Developing Situational Awareness

One key strategy the course emphasises is developing situational awareness. We recently spoke to Dr Gav Schneider about this important skill because most of us really aren’t situationally aware. For example, if you were asked to remember the make, model, and colour of the last car you parked next to, chances are, you’d draw a blank. Or if you had to give a physical description of the person who served your morning coffee, unless you were a regular, you’d have no idea. Taking in that kind of detail, particularly when travelling, will give you a far better chance of avoiding trouble.

John also stresses the importance of ‘decreasing your footprint’ which means lowering your profile, blending into your environment, trying not to stand out. His advice is not to carry a bright bag or wear a multi-coloured shirt and shorts like a typical tourist. He suggests thinking carefully about wearing jewellery or even a modestly priced watch. In some countries, they could be seen as flaunting your wealth and make you a target.

Preparation Is Key

This kind of thinking applies to everyone, but particularly if you’re working with a client as part of an executive protection (EP) unit, doing prior preparation is essential. Conduct a risk assessment and see if the client is at risk of kidnap and if so, how you’re going to mitigate this. It might include creating alternate routes or increasing the numbers within the EP team. In light of how many people are held captive each year, especially in high-risk cases, you might even organise a counter-attack team or law enforcement as an add-on.

‘If we get into a volatile situation in a hostile region, we look for combat indicators which might include decrease inactivity. This is where a busy area suddenly has nothing going on, or people start to avoid eye contact. If you’re escorting a journalist, for instance, somewhere like Syria or Iraq, and driving into a town you see the shutters going down, you’d start thinking something’s up. The spidey sense is tingling, and you get that gut feeling that something’s not right. It doesn’t just happen in the movies. It happens in real life.’

In the Event of Capture

When considering the fact that anywhere between 12,000 and 15,000 people are held captive every year, kidnapping is a real risk. In the unfortunate event that someone is captured, depending on who captures them and if they’re considered a valuable commodity, they may be taken care of. Of course, the extent of this could range from being kept in very good conditions to those that are just enough to keep them alive.

If however, someone is captured not for ransom so much as propaganda or they’re simply deranged, then it can be very different, and that’s where you must make an assessment of what you’re up against. This is usually based on technical information.

‘During training, we talk about rescue and recovery of hostages. One of our instructors spent many years in a counter-terrorism unit and has a vast amount of experience and knowledge in hostage recovery. He discusses this at length.

His presentation covers, in comprehensive detail, what you can expect if a rescue or recovery goes through. For example, there is always, potentially, something going on behind the scenes you don’t know about, so don’t give up. We impress upon people the importance of maintaining a positive mental attitude throughout all phases. You need to be mentally positive to maintain your morale.’

‘People who‘ve spent some time in confinement have very little situational awareness. The next thing they know, there’s shouting, gunfire and things can get confused. In that part of the presentation, the information is kept very clear. Participants are told exactly what they must and must not do so as not to jeopardise the rescue. No one’s ever prepared to be kidnapped, detained, or taken as a hostage but knowing what may occur – the noises you may hear, the commands you may be given, the actions you might need to take – will help you be prepared as you can be.’

John concludes,

‘The bottom line is, do your research. Everything we present on the course is information that’s already out there, and there’s a strong smattering of common sense. But there’s a large degree of complacency and it’s amazing the number of people who travel overseas and don’t consult anything – not even Lonely Planet or resources like DFAT’s smart travel website. We make sure we equip our course participants with information that can save their life.’

Interested in having the adverse environments training team deliver a program at your workplace?

Here are some of the reasons why an adverse environments training program is beneficial to your organisation:

– Our Adverse Environments training could save lives in your business;

Run by former special forces and specialist military personnel;

– Awareness training for anyone who travels or work within the media field, etc;

– Workplace health and safety consideration for those working in the field;

– Real-world experience and training may keep you safe;

– Real-life situations and cases;

– Non-physical;

– Done at your workplace or at a venue close by;

– 2-3 hours in duration;


For more information, Contact us at

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 prepared 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 get an edge on life with a strong mindset developed through mental conditioning.

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 and getting an edge on life.

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, 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 a pre-planned 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. That is another technique that will help you get a better edge on life.

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 to 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 as a way of getting an edge on life. These 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 for 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 of 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 in order to get the edge on life, 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 at 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 and get an edge on life, 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.’