What Does a Close Protection Officer (CPO) Actually Do?
What does a close protection officer do
Often potential Close Protection Officers come into the Industry with a vague or romanticised view of what the job entails on a daily basis. Whilst jobs are highly varies we review typical tasks expected of a close protection officers. So, we have run through some of the more common tasks that a close protection officer has to perform.
What are a Close Protection Officers duties ?
A Close protection officer’s job is essentially to avoid risks or threats to their principle. Typically the close protection officer (some times referred to as a bodyguard) is security officer or government employee who protects an individual/family/organisation members from assault, kidnapping, stalking, loss of confidential information, terrorist attacks and other threats.
Celebrities, important public figures, High net worth individuals etc will typically get protection from the team of close protection officers hired by an agency, security forces or police forces.
Lower value, lower risk public figures are usually accompanied by a single close protection officer who will sometimes also act as a driver.
Close Protection Officer Responsibilities
Close Protection Officers take on a wide range of tasks depending on their own experience, the risks and needs of their principle, and the operating environment. (The person they are protecting). Factors effecting the role of the close protection officer are:
1. The level of risk faced by the client.
Protecting High risk Principles often involves roles like checking for Improvised Explosive Devices (I.E.D) anticipating or watching for potential snipers, choke points on a route etc
2. The type of client
A celebrity being followed or mobbed by aggressive photographers generally engages a C.P.O to block or maintain photographers distance. There is considrable less risk and the risks are more abour invasion of privacy than a risk to life or limbs. However often the job can be quite difficult on these occassions as often their is just a lone close protection officer. In low risk scenarios typically the Close Protection Officer’s job is to be as discrete as possible. In a high risk environment the job of the close protection officer may be less subtle and the principle may want to discourage potential hostile behaviousr by an overt show of force.
3. The role assigned
The C.P.O be tasked with the role of driver-bodyguard or can be even a part of an ancillary unit that provides support for electronic bug detection, pre search of facilities, background checks etc.
The role of the C.P.O is usually dictated by their experience and training.
4. The Driver C.P.O
Sometimes close protection officers are drivers of the client. This role includes checking the vehicle if it was required to be left unaccompanied E.G to escort their client on foot. The driver needs to be trained in evasive/defensive driving techniques. The vehicle (depending on the level of risk and operational environment), may be specially equipped with ballistic glass and armour, have fire extinguishers, specially resistant front and rear bumpers etc to provide additional protection for client and driver.
Close Protection Officer: The Daily Routine
The day begins with a daily meeting led by their Team Leader. The principle’s schedule is analyzed and team’s action is decided. The close protection team discusses how they will transport, escort and perform any counter surveillance tasks that need doing. The close protection team needs to assess the range of risk to which client will be exposed, and act accordingly. The Close Protection Team will make arrangements by checking the venues roads before hand. The close protection team may have a list of people that will be coming in to contact with their principle.
A close protection team member or driver will inspect the vehicles before leaving with the client for any scheduled locations. The number of vehicles varies according to the level of risk risk or the operational environment. In the UK, a low risk client may have only a single car. In more high risk environments or with a high risk principle additional cars to form a protective band of vehicles that can flank the principle’s vehicle.
Transferring the principle
Once the vehicles have been inspected, they are typically bought near an exit door so that principle can leave their building. At least one driver or bodyguard stays with the now-searched cars. This ensures the vehicles have not been tampered with and avoids the likelihood that any unforeseen risks are experienced getting into the cars. With higher risk principles the close protection team will flank the client as they approach or exit the vehicle.
Travelling with the principle
The close protection team and principle will then proceed towards the destination. A variety of routes will have been checked and the entire team will be familiar with the chosen or back up routes. The close protection team will try to avoid choke points (areas where traffic flow is congested or easily stopped). Areas such as tunnels or single lane bridges may be avoided depending on the risk profile of the principle.
Where possible public transport would be avoided. However if required (eg the client is going to travel by train) the close protection team will inspect the railway carriage as well as any other carriages they will use. It is always dangerous to travel by public transport so it is rarely used. With low risk principles – it would not usually be practical to use public transport other than flying as the ability to control the environment is lost and a single close protection officer is of limited use.
This is a very basic review of tasks typically assigned to a close protection team member. Remember, the roles required of a close protection officer in a high risk environment vary considerably from that of a close protection officer in central London.
Details on SIA can be found here: http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/licensing-close-protection.aspx
Details for a training provider can be found here: http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/training-ApprovedTrainingProviders.aspx?providerid=432129