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Security is Prevention

The Financial Times reported this week that in Nigeria “the kidnapping industry is thriving.”

A combination of increased population, unemployment, underfunding, easy access to small arms and incapable security forces have enabled kidnapping to become a boom industry in an already struggling economy, leaving Nigeria with a serious security threat. 

Simeon Rosset over at Rosset Bespoke Butlers recently interviewed one of Greece's foremost security officers George Sardelis, CEO at Defensor Civitatis and himself a victim of kidnap, about the role of security teams for high net worth individuals.

George explains about how to find the right team, whether you can prepare for a kidnapping situation and provides exclusive insights into how to deal with it if the unimaginable strikes.   

You’ll find the full interview on our home page but here are a few snippets.

In today’s global economy, serious threat to personal and corporate security is more frequent than you might think. Incidents like kidnapping are hard to predict - none of us has a crystal ball - so when they do occur they require a swift, organized and expert response.

The personal and financial impact of just such a crisis can be life-threatening to any individual, but also affects their partner, children, wider family, friends, employees and indeed their business. 

What's the role of the security team?

To keep our clients, their families and their properties safe.

Security is prevention. it's the art of defence. If you don’t do your job well before something goes wrong, it's too late after and it could mean someone's life.

What are the key qualities a hi-net-worth individual is looking for in their security team?

Trust. You are entrusting your security team with your lives. Individuals hire security guards to protect themselves, their family, their property and to build absolute trust takes time and total transparency - the team need to know everything. The family's movements, routines, day to day schedule. Sometimes it can take as long as 3 years to really build that trust.  Trusting your security more than you would trust anyone else.

Sincerity.  Letting security into your life is an incredibly personal thing. Working in security takes a lot of commitment, not only physically and mentally but timewise too.  As a security guard you can feel more devoted to your employer than your own family sometimes - you spend more time with them!

Being on someone's security team takes great personal sacrifice. 

Is there anything you can do to prepare for a kidnapping?

Having been kidnapped back in 2009 along with my employer I can say from personal experience; employ a security team who are trained for that eventuality and improve awareness. Most employers don't really know what they should do if there’s a threat.  Do they hire someone, change their lifestyle? How do they even know there’s a threat?

Other individuals hire a security team just in case something happens.

Day to day hi-net-worth individuals don't really think they'll be kidnapped and it's something that's virtually impossible to prepare for. You can put all the security in place, check routes, have a team of individuals shadowing your every move and when/if it happen it's still a huge shock and you don't really know how you'll react.

That's why you're hiring a trained, experienced security team, so they can think and prepare for it, for you.

Is there anything you can do to improve your chances of survival in that scenario?

Preserving life is the most important thing. Money comes and goes but staying alive is key. if you end up in a kidnap situation, the best thing you can do is let the kidnappers be in charge of things and follow orders.  Try and understand what's going on and find a resolution quickly.

How does training help?

The right training gives you the awareness you should have.  High net worth individuals very rarely want to get trained themselves, but they need to understand what security looks like and how to have the right security detail around them.  Security is prevention after all.

Does personal wealth makes someone a target?

Yes it can do.  But it's not always easy.  It can be very hard on the family, adopting this lifestyle with a security team constantly in the shadows.  Employers don't want to feel imprisoned by their staff but they should be open to taking advice from them.  To reduce risk wherever possible.

You might think that certain countries are lower risk than others, for example: London or the South of France, but if your employer has been identified as a target it doesn't really matter where they are. Kidnapping can happen anywhere.

If your employer often travels to a second home abroad, it feels like it’s home, so can feel safe and protected, when it might not be.

Can household staff do anything to help?

If the household has no security team, then household staff can work as a team to remain discreet, observant and aware of the little things.  For example: the driver, butler, maid and gardener - everyone who surrounds the family have to work together and keep talking. Even noticing the little things can make a difference.  20 pairs of eyes will see more than 5.

What to look for when recruiting a security team?

Make sure you get references. 24 is not enough hours in the day for this job. When employers are looking for someone highly recommended, they're looking for someone they can trust with their lives. See lots of candidates, choosing your security individual or team must be high priority. It’s a big deal, don’t do it quickly.  You'll need to build complete trust in that person and that doesn't come over night.

This business is a ninja magnet - newcomers have to understand this is not just another job, it’s a life choice. You've got to have exceptional attention to detail and commitment - from your first day to your last.  Because if you make a mistake it could mean someone’s life.

To find out more about George's experiences and how he dealt with his own terrifying kidnap situation check out the YouTube video on our home page.

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