The late Twentieth century saw an upturn in the amount of bodyguards, or close protection personnel, that were looking after influential, political or wealthy clients. They consisted mainly of current or former policemen or military personnel. Nowadays, we have these in addition to specialist agencies that train people to carry out close protection services of all kinds.
The position of the bodyguard has been much glamourised through film and television but it is not a position to be taken up lightly. Those that live in the public eye are often subject to, at one end of the scale, stalkers and assassination attempts to the other end of the scale where theft of possessions or personal information as well as harassment from photographers can be detrimental to the persons everyday being. Close protection personnel are there to minimise the risks as much as possible and at times, the tasks involved can be mundane – yet never trivial.
Government officials, royalty, celebrities and high profile public figures are the most frequent users of close protection services in varying degrees dependent on their risk level. Sometimes a bodyguard will double up as a driver, though for maximum security another guard is preferable to prevent ever having to leave the vehicle unattended and open to the plantation of explosives or electronic surveillance devices.
Close protection personnel are responsible for planning the security for their clients day to day activities whether that be official or personal business. They will need to check cars to be used for explosives or listening devices, they will need to plan and physically test out the intended route between destinations to ensure there are no obvious hold-ups such as road works that would leave the client vulnerable. They will check out the venues the client is to visit, check the backgrounds of the staff they will come into contact with and check rooms for safety eg. listening devices.
If a bodyguard is on a protection mission where the client is in danger of assassination attempts, the risk level is greatly increased and close attention is paid to checking for bombs and snipers. In these incidents, the protection services will often carry firearms for the protection of their client. In a less risky environment, weapons will consist of pepper spray or Tasers, otherwise the bodyguard may be unarmed.
All the staff that are working for the protection of a client will be in liaison at all times to ensure their clients day runs as smoothly and safely as possible. Morning meetings are held with action plans set for the day’s activities and all members play an important role. Minor celebrities will usually only have one bodyguard and this is often sufficient – as much as a deterrent as anything else.
Close protection services are responsible for checking the clients residence, vehicles and places that they will visit as well as people they come into contact with for anything that could pose a threat to the client. It is vital that they remain alert at all times, flanking the client whilst they are not in the protective surroundings of a secure building or vehicle.
Training will often consist of specific military bodyguard training such as the SAS, but can also come in the form of specialist training through an agency. They will be proficient in unarmed combat, firearm tactics, tactical driving and first aid and they need to be physically fit with excellent sight and hearing.
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