Blog

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First of all, please accept our apologies for the very long hiatus from our blog.... a combination of an extremely busy summer, winter and now spring, and admittedly some apathy on our part, all ended in us not doing anything blog wise since before our deployment to Lyon in a Media Security Advisory role for the Euro 2016 Football Championships. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the Sky team got some fantastic footage and it passed without incident which was the main aim.

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We also managed work trips to Mumbai for a week in support of a large international company and also to Istanbul, somewhere in the middle of it all one of our regular clients came over to the uk for 3 weeks in November and December and again in February for a further 11 days. 

Away from our various Close Protection duties at home and abroad, weve also been hard at work with the surveillance side of Discreet Help. Culminating in a an investigation and surveillance that ran over almost 3 months and ended in a fantastic result for the client and a pat on the back for the team that worked tirelessly on that particular job and all subsequent ones also. We've also got some great news to come regarding our Surveillance and Investigations business... so stay tuned for that coming (we hope) very very soon.

I think thats brought us almost upto date!

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Citizen Aid - Responding to the UK Terror Threat conference was held this past Monday (20th March) at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham and as an attendee, I'd be confident to say it was a resounding success. Well attended by a few hundred, fellow Professionals, Emergency service personnel, Schools, Emergency Planners, Medical professionals and the wider public too. The organisers had collated an expert panel for several theoretical excercises and there was ample opportunity to q and a at all times. We were also impressed with the credibility and support afforded to the CitizenAid movement and the mobile app (which we would really recommend you download). There was also plenty of opportunity for networking and for some practical skills, giving each the opportunity to get hands on and really see the value in what the app can bring to an individual or group in the event of a terror attack.

The table top exercises conducted by the expert panel were enlightnening to hear, particulalry from the emrgency medical services point of view. From all of the excercies the ambulance service have taken part in surrounding a potential terror attack in the UK, i was amazed and shocked to learn that their quickest response time (initial call to gaining access to a contained secure environment)  to an active/marauding shooter is a startling 100 minutes. If ever there was a need for the Citizen Aid app, it is in the event of an incident like this.....

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What the conference also highlighted to us, was that there is a very real requirement for training amongst businesses and the wider public. To have a First Aid at work just isnt enough in the circumstances, and unless businesses are going to take the very real and credible threat seriously, they'll not only fail their staff and customers, but fail them in a very tragic way. 

Overall we enjoyed the day, it was informative, engaging and worth attending. We've gone away with renewed confidence that our approach and mindset are on the the right track and are working on effective ways we can assist businesses deliver robust planning in the unlikely event of a terror attack, and suitable training to reaffirm those plans.

We'll try not to leave it 8/9 months next time.....

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Euro 2016 - What to expect & What you can do to help yourself

I got a call from BBC News yesterday morning (06th June) asking if I could come up to Media City and be a guest expert on BBC News for a piece regrding Security at Euro 2016. Of course having had the opportunity before, it was a no brainer. I'm always happy to give some advice where I am able. What is difficult to convey in a media interview is that you dont know the questions being asked until you're on air and the segment is usually a few minutes maximum, so you are left feeling somewhat deflated, as you often only convey half a story or half of the message..... But thats what blogs are for I suppose!

Having spent several hours reading and digesting briefing packs from UEFA, and various Governments in the run up to the Euro 2016 Tournament, it was quite evident that a high level of planning and cinsideration has gone in to Security precautions surrounding the tournament. We are all acutely aware of the current "terror" threat levels across Europe and its also widely known that stadia have been targetted before in France. It would be remiss and ignorant to deny that they will continue to be targetted and the French, German, American and British Intelligence apparatus have all stated that ISIS have been targetting the championship. 

There are a few other factors that need to be taken into account in addition to the terror threat, these include the political and criminal risks surrounding such tournaments. France has a long history of protest and the clash between unions and police have typically ended in violence. This is an important thing to note, and be very aware of any public demonstrations should you be attending any of the host cities or matches. The criminal risk, is always an element to consider, several brutal assaults have taken place on the Paris Metro, particularly targetting the Airport and Stade de France  routes, pick pocketing, counterfeit tickets, street gangs, and Football Hooliganism are all likely to rear their heads at some point over the coming month.

So we have a brief synopsis of the likely threats, but what should we expect on the ground... how are the french authorities going to police the tournament and make it a safe one?

An estimated 90,000 security and police personnel will be deployed accross the tournament. France regualrly welcome over 80 million visitors a year and is very well versed in hosting large tournaments. It is envisaged that at each stadium and fan zone there will be several layers of security, from Armed French Police on the outer ring, contracted Security as a secondary layer, conducitng bag and body searches, and finally the stewarding and security inside the stadia themselves. 

You can expect longer than usual travel times by road and rail, there will be random searches at rail and bus terminus, road blocks and check points. We are currently being told that there will be a 100% bag search policy at all fan zone and stadia, and it is likely that there will be K9 searches also.

We have taken a look at the UK Governments #beontheball campaign and its advice is great but we think we can expand on things slightly, especially with the threat in mind for this tournament. These are in addition to the advice already published by the government.

  • Familiarise yourself with the hotels evac plan and come up with your own invac plan also (as seen in the Tunisia Beach Massacre, people congregated in Hotel Receptions and muster points only to be targetted by a gunman)
  • Know the locations of local medical facilities, including doctors, medical centres and hospitals
  • Have at least one copy of your passport with you
  • Know the emergency numbers of the Police, Fire and Ambulance Service
  • Have your travel insurance emergency contact number, along with details of the nearest consulate or embassy.
  • Obey any directions from French authorities, yes it can be frustrating and seem illogical at times but be patient
  • Stick in groups, dont wander off alone.
  • If you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary, Report it straight away. Better to have an expert evaluate whether its importnat or not
  • Have fun..... thats what the tournament is all about


Discreet Help is a bespoke Security Consultancy, having worked on tournaments including the ATP World Tour Final 2014 and the Rugby World Cup 2015.

 

 

 

Why things go wrong for security teams....


As I think most of the world is now aware, there was a little "security event" at Old Trafford on Sunday... and if you were really unfortunate you may have seen or heard Discreet Help boss Brian Painter on BBC Breakfast, Sky Sports News, ITV 6 and 10 o'clock News, Channel 5 news, Granada Reports News,  BBC NI Radio, Key 103 Radio, BBC 5 Live Radio, Talk Radio and a written article in goal.com also... (yes it was that many), discussing as impatially as possible his opinion on what could have possibly gone wrong. As the time wore on, little snippets of information were released by the club and the owner of the unfortunate 

As soon as the story started to break on Sunday afternoon, many questions were already being asked. Thankfully it quickly after a swift and praise where it is due, a textbook evacuation. 50,000 plus fans evacuated, cordons quickly established and a sense of calm in general. This is generally only ever practiced as a table top excercise, so it was a unique opportunity and demonstrated a good level of competency amongst the security and stewarding staff. This type of drill has many working parts and from an outside persepective it seemed to work efficently and quickly.

Now for the but.... and it is a big but, and I in the many soundbites aired,  went into the downfall of the whole operation was the contractor brought in to do the Dog searching excercise the previous Wednesday. So the blame does lie at that contractors door, or is it a shared responsibility with the incumbent security and stewarding team? Was it lack of adequate training, poorly paid and lacking motivation, inexperience, and complacency.   A subject of much debate and something I stressed in every interview that I did, although not all broadcasted.

One thing I was asked was "do you think mistakes happen more often than we are told" my answer was of course they do. It was rather unfortunate that the latest event happend to one of the largest football clubs in the world and on the last day of the season with the worlds press on the scene already. 

In general terms the quality of training and standards of operation not only in sporting based security but across the board need to be improved substantially. It is a topic of much debate amongst fellow professionals, and one that has been discussed by the SIA, but they do not have the resources to even attempt to address this issue. Whilst its a regulated industry the authority has done little or nothing to address poor training, poor wages, inexperienced companies and employees taking on work they are ill prepared to conduct.

Having taken part in a documentary for the BBC regarding illegal licences and poor standards of training, the problem is pandemic, and unless business and individuals conduct thorough due diligence on who they are employing and ensuring they are capable of completing the work in hand, then this cycle will continue. It is incumbent on all professionals that they maintain the highest standards, conduct regular training, just because youve done it before, doesnt mean you dont need refresher training on a regular basis. Like going to the gym, it gets easier the more often you attend.

Ask questions, try new things, dont be afraid to raise your hand and question things if you believe they are wrong.

Mistake will never be elminated, its is part of human nature, but as the job implies, its about managing risk... managing risk is when you know the outcome, gambling is when you dont.

I'll leave with it with something I saw somewhere and wrote down so I can't take any of the credit but it does ring true somewhat.

Boardrooms often still look at Corporate Security from a 3G's perspective, being Guns, Guards, and Gates or in other words focusing all too much on the 'Corporate Cop' image. Instead, it should be seen from a 4P's concept: Policies, Protocols, (best) Practices, and Procedures, where the Security Department serves as a critical business partner and security adviser” – Unknown 2016





Unless you've been in outer space for the past few weeks, you will have seen the shocking terror attacks in Paris, Tunisia, Palestine, Egypt, Nigeria, Mali and the inevitable fallout from these including the lockdown of a major European city in Brussels. 

I was recently interviewed by Manchester Business Radio after the terror attacks in Paris and one of the many things I was asked was has this come as a shock to me? My answer was quite simply "No" . The increase in actions against Syria and what is proving to be disastrous foreign policy, and mass migration of fighting age males have all had a negative impact on the security situation across Europe. 

I don't wish to get embroiled in a debate about the politics of the situation, what I would like to make business and individuals aware of is the very real threat to you and your business today! Ive blogged about this earlier in the year "In the wake of terror" and my synopsis hasn't altered.My advice to any and all businesses or persons who feel that they require advice and consultation that there is a wealth or resources available to you. 

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Mi5 have a great deal of information on there website which can be adapted to any size of business, your local Police will run Counter Terror seminars and talks and are usually very approachable regarding advice. Perhaps as important is to engage with a security expert. Weigh up the cost to yourself and your business should the worst happen and what is an acceptable loss? Once you can answer that, then you'll know what is worth investing.

Of course we provide Security Consultancy and are happy to discuss and review anything you already have in place.

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It’s come to that vital stage in your business where it’s time to take one small step out of your office and one giant leap into the world of exporting.

And more often than not, the decision to create new exporting links results in a tightly packed suitcase and one flight ticket to an exciting destination; drawing you away from the walls of your office and the responsibilities encased within.

Consequently, you’re left weighing the potential risk of leaving your office based duties behind. Especially for SMEs, justifying the risks in having incoming calls left unanswered, administrative tasks delayed, and emails clogging up your inbox can leave you wishing that you’re packing your suitcase for a holiday and not an exporting expedition in the first place.

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If you’re getting a little frazzled just reading this, we’re sorry, and as an apology we’re going to throw you the ultimate anti-stress ball. Because, partnered with Discreet Help Ltd who provide unrivalled Business Travel Risk packages Individually tailored to each destination and visit,, Mi PA is here to not just to liberate your concerns, but to make sure they don’t exist in the first place.

So, here are the ultimate five ways we can ensure your organisation stays 100% functional during your profitable business ventures away from home:

1. Divert your incoming calls to us.

Depending on the type of business you run, whether it’s online, B2B, or B2C, the amount of calls you receive will vary. But there’s one significant thing all organisations will have in common when using Mi PA’s call answering service; you’ll never miss an important call. Not only will your dedicated team of virtual assistants ensure that all your calls are answered on time, we will also make sure that any details you require will be sent directly to your chosen communication method whilst you’re away.

2. Let us make outgoing calls for you.

Concerned about not being able to chase that invoice, book that meeting, research those venues, or contact that particular customer? Or perhaps you just “forgot” to reschedule your dentist appointment before you went away? Mi PA will make those calls for you, and more. In fact, we’ll handle any call you want to throw our way, for a duration tailored to you.

3. Use one of our dedicated PAs for email management.

While it’s possible to deal with your emails while travelling for business, realistically you’re piling on the stress. Keeping on top of your inbox while simultaneously juggling the hassles of travelling is a recipe for a headache. Instead, why not leave your email management in the hands of an experienced and dedicated PA? We’ll send, answer and prioritise all your emails with such style and speed that your customers and clients will never doubt your devotion to them.

4. Let us be responsible for your diary.

Not only will we book meetings and schedule appointments in your diary for the duration of your absence, we can also ensure that your appointments abroad are organised. Travelling is only stressful when arrangements are in disarray, and on top of everything else you need to manage, it’s often difficult to make sure mistakes don’t occur. Let us take care of your diary to eliminate such eventualities.

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5. We can handle your social media

With dedicated PAs trained in the art of social media marketing, your fears of putting tweets, Facebook posts and Linkedin conversations on hold are unwarranted. At Mi PA, we take the time to get to know your business (and yes, that does mean stalking your social media accounts). With this knowledge, your PA will be adept in keeping on top of your accounts while you’re away, in addition to tweeting about your exporting pursuits abroad.

You might be wondering what on earth I could possibly be blogging about, Neo Nazis, Georgians and the Government, its got the making of some great conspiratorial documentary or film. Unfortunately the only act of conspiracy is that over the last 8 weeks or so Ive been involved in providing various services involving all 3.

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First was a proposed Neo Nazi march in Liverpool, which quickly fell to pieces when only a handful of the self styled and much confused Neo Nazis actually arrived at Liverpool Lime Street, only to be confronted by several hundred Anti Facist demonstrators, after some swift intervention from the Police they were promptly dispatched on the next train back out of the city. We were working in support of ITV News providing media security. Apart from covering almost every inch of the city, it was largely uneventful and made all the easier working with another skilled and experienced operator, ensuring that the crew were safe at all times.

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Now the main reason Ive been unable to update the blog for so long has been largely due to the Rugby World Cup. As most of you have probably enjoyed the matches from the comfort of the sofa, pub or one of the many fanzones. We were very privileged to be the Security Consultant for the Georgia team. Ive been asked if I could sum up the experience in one word, and thats "awesome". It wasn't all 5 star hotels, nice cars and superstars of world rugby.... well not entirely. The role demanded long hours and a great many moving parts. Getting 50+ players, coaches and entourage around the country in a safe manner, media coverage, public engagements, and the all important match days. A truly memorable experience, seeing the amount of hard work that an international team has to put in to achieve on the pitch, and with the best seats in the house too, capped by Georgia automatically qualifying for the next World Cup. 

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No sooner had we arrived back in Manchester after Georgia's departure, a quick 14 hour turnaround, and back to the South West to provide Covert Protective Surveillance in support of the Government, needless to say its not something we are at liberty to divulge, but a great week spent on an interesting tasking, that we hope we'll be invited back to assist with in the future.

We've some very interesting things happening behind the scenes and we'll blog about that very soon

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I recently for a walk in the hills surrounding the Hope Valley in the Peak District with a great friend, a school teacher and all round uplifting character. We somehow got to talking about failure, not just from an academical point of view, but that of a personal or business perspective. All whilst taking in some striking scenery.

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It was interesting to hear, that children of today are having to be taught about failure, as if its not part of real life!, is this because we put more stock in success? How in turn would we measure success if we had never tasted the bitterness of failure?

In the ensuing conversation, we each asked what our largest failure was, mine was my failure to make the cut with the Special Forces, an injury and hypothermia put paid to attaining that pinnacle! A mixture of exhaustion,realisation and ultimately failure left  me in tears of disappointment at the time. Even the invitation to re attempt did little to improve how I felt.

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Using those feelings of failure and disappointment, I pushed myself to use it constructively and set about gaining my Close Protection qualification, not happy with the minimum BTEC Level 3 course, I sought the longest and most arduous I could find, Instead of 140 hours learning I went for a BTEC Level 4 course (the only one of its kind in world and I made the promo video) with over double the amount of required learning required.

Years later I now run my own successful business and am still very active on the Close Protection circuit. With out tasting the bitterness in defeat and failure I would never have pushed myself every time since. Sure there has been low points since, serious illness, lost opportunities and lost relationships. Its how you use those experiences to push on! 

Have you experienced failure? How did you deal with it? Have you even dealt with it? What does failure mean to you and your business? Any failure in security could strike disaster for even the most robust of organisations. Apple pay over $700,000 a year in protection of there greatest asset, their CEO Tim Cook, failure to do so could be catastrophic for not only Tim and his family but also  for Apple.

This month is the start of the Rugby World Cup, and it will be interesting to see how individuals and teams deal with failure, of which all will experience at some point, either on the field of play or in training. Im very proud to be embedded with one of the teams as a consultant, and look to learn as much as possible from these professional athletes and see what I can bring to to my business and myself to make me better. It is perhaps apt that the car i'll be using is the new Land Rover Discovery, as I continue on my personal and business voyage. Perhaps thats the key, we need to learn not only from our mistakes and failures but of those around us also.

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We recently attended the UKTI’s Exportjam in Manchester. A government initiative to promote export champions, SME's and existing exporters to come together and discuss practical measures that could be taken to get the UK to reach its £1 Trillion a year export goals by 2020.
One of the biggest barriers that exporters and for new companies entering into the export market encountered, were the physical risks whilst travelling to new markets and also the country and regional intelligence and analysis that were either difficult to obtain, never proffered or woefully inadequate. An apparent upsurge of terror attacks across the globe in recent weeks and months has brought a stark reality to our attitudes to International travel. No longer can we feel safe sat on the beach or traversing through Europe. We’ve seen further violence and terror across the Middle East with conflict and atrocities increasing day by day, and the overspill into Northern Africa. The rest of the African continent lies in conflicts, burgeoning violent crime and some of the highest Kidnap and Ransom rates that would make the South Americans blush! This all has a dramatic effect on British companies doing business and operating across the world.

Do you have a travel or export tale to tell? What barriers did you face? We'd love to here from you.

We've developed several solutions that we believe will further enable our Great British companies to continue and pursue the export goals. Please drop us a line to learn more about thesenull

Our bespoke Risk Management solutions allow you to comply with H&S regulations ensuring you have conducted due diligence before you leave, comprehensive Country Intelligence and Analysis reports from our specialists from Military Intelligence give you that distinct advantage. Minimising Risk with Satellite Tracking and Chaperones ensure that no matter whats happening in the world, it doesn't have to have a detrimental effect on your business.

In the wake of terror

The past few weeks have proven to be a turbulent time with an upsurge in acts of terror in France, Tunisia, Kuwait, and Egypt amongst many others. Prior to this we all remember the grotesque Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris and Mumbai attacks also the Sydney siege. Combined with 7/7 and the Boston bombings, its quite clear that all of these acts of terror have the ability to not only strike with near impunity at the heart of our communities and effectively cripple them whilst have lasting effects on there populous.

In Manchester and across the UK we are no strangers to acts of terror and as a city and nation we have remained resolute. We recently saw the Metropolitan Police conducting there own training exercise based upon several attacks across the capital. This was in conjunction with 14 different agencies including the Security services. This arguably did several things, it demonstrated that we have a resolute and determined response to these acts, and also acts as a deterrent to would be attackers. Both of which we can all agree are commendable.

As us Mancunians know only to well, that the United Kingdom isn't just about London. We can boast and quite rightly so, that we are the second city. We have the largest office populous outside of the capital. Paris, Tokyo and Berlin will have less  job growth over the next 5 years and a growing number of international businesses making Manchester there home, all making us a very viable target, for acts of terror.

My thoughts when I saw Police exercise Operation Strong Tower on the news, was how would Manchester cope if that was to happen here, today, now!? If it is to happen we won't get advanced notice. The Cumbrian shootings by Derrick Bird, the rampage of Raol Moat, Dunblane and Hungerford are all relevant examples of active shooter attacks outside of the capital with a largely delayed appropriate armed response. Just in the last week there was at least 3 separate shootings in North Manchester. 

It is expected that an armed response could be mustered in the capital within 5/10 minutes. What is that in our city? What about in a neighbouring town? Do we have an appropriate force to respond should that day come when it is Manchester again the centre of another terrorist atrocity?

I am sure the GMP have a resolute plan for all major attacks and it would be remiss to think otherwise. The concerns raised amongst colleagues and by other experts including on Sky News, what would be the response outside the capital and how quickly could that appropriate response be mustered. Let us all hope that the day never comes to our city or nation again, and should it happen again we all have resolution to never be defeated.

Food for thought........

Discreet help offer bespoke Security and Risk Management solutions including Security assessments and planning for all size of business.

* This blog is written to encourage dialogue and thought not to cast blame or needless assertions on any organisation or company.

Violent crime against business - What can we do?

18 June 2015

In the wake of an apparent upturn in serious violent crime across the Greater Manchester area, we are asking this week what can we as business do to protect ourselves? Police cuts, fewer visible beat cops, and poor security all play a big role in violent crimes against business in 2015.

According to www.ukcrimestats.com in the Greater Manchester Police area for Jan-Apr 2015 there were nearly 1200 recorded Robberies, 446 weapons related crimes and for the year May 2014-Apr 2015 nearly 15000 yes FIFTEEN THOUSAND reports of shoplifting. Whilst this must have a huge financial cost on businesses across the region the effect on employers and employees is largely immeasurable.

So what can businesses do, or should that be what aren't businesses doing to protect themselves, their employees and their stock or even lost time? A quick analysis of a more recent incident, as recent as just over a week ago.

From www.gmp.police.uk - At around 12.20pm  on Wednesday 10th June 2015, four men dressed in dark clothing and balaclavas approached David M Robinson Ltd jewellers on Railway Street, Altrincham and used a battering ram to break through the security door. They pushed the shop’s security guard into the shop and ordered him to lie on the ground, which he did.

One of the men then used a metal pole to prevent security shutters from closing, while two others entered the shop and used crowbars to smash glass cabinets and place watches worth hundreds of thousands of pounds into a bag held by a third man.

The fourth offender then dislodged and activated the smoke cloak security system from the wall, and the four men fled into a black Land Rover, which sped away.

On the face of things it would seem that the shop had made adequate provision to prevent any likely attack on the premises. They had security shutters, a security guard, Smoke Cloak systems and alarms all in place yet they were still violently robbed with the attackers making away with £000,000’s of jewellery and watches. 

What can we surmise from this incident and others, that have occurred all over the city? Few of these crimes are opportunistic, they have had some level of planning before they have been conducted, reconnaissance on layouts, location of CCTV, interest of the security guards and staff, type of access control, escape routes, police response times, alarm response procedures, hostile surveillance of staff to name a few. 

Shops shouldn't have to have the same levels of security as a Prison and in some cases it would be impractical or cost prohibitive. If it is measured against the loss in goods, time and custom it very quickly becomes more affordable, and if under constant review can be managed affordably. We live in a fantastic city that has an often violent underbelly. Security should never be under estimated and nor should the people it is there to deter.

If we break down the common elements of typical security measures in place and see if they are adequate in helping to prevent these from occurring and if not how can we improve upon them.

CCTV - Images from the store mentioned in the earlier article were of reasonable resolution but not HD quality. Thus making any potential identification of the perpetrators very difficult. CCTV systems are relatively inexpensive and should be as up to date as possible. Get an independent Security provider to conduct a CCTV survey and ensure you have adequate coverage. Blindspots, poor imagery, outdated equipment all make the system largely redundant if they don't do what you want them to do. Alarm - Is it linked to the police or alarm response? Is it linked to anyone at all? If you have a key holder, what is their response time, and when did you last test the alarm, change the codes and test the response of the security provider or key holder? What are your procedures for out of hours alarms? Do you even have one? Think Hatton Garden robbery? If any one of these doesn't work as advertised then it is useless. Access Control - Electronic doors are great to slow or restrict access but its very easy to tailgate behind someone and then that unveiled person is now on your premises. Consider double portcullis doors, turnstiles, one person gates, all in common use. Security shutters, how are they deployed, are they effective? What about in loading bays or staff access points? Physical Security - Take a look at the Security guard, is he alert?, responsive?, well turned out?, looking professional?. Is he really a deterrent? or is he there as a insurance requirement? If you were paid minimum wage or relatively poorly to be the line of defence between a determined armed robber and the premises and stock, you’d quickly lie down and let them help themselves. Why bother having one if they are not motivated or trained adequately?

This is by no means exhaustive and certainly not intended to reflect on the owner and employees of the store mentioned. It does however go to show that you can have all of these seemingly great security precautions in place, but if there is a weak link in any one of them then should the worst happen you can only expect one result.

To coin a phrase from a previous employ “Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted”, criminals will conduct reconnaissance on an intended target for days if not weeks before. They will be looking where your cameras are, alarm sensors, types of shutters, access points, alert state of the security guard and staff? 

If you have a cohesive well practised security plan that everyone is drilled in and understands then you become the hard target. If you understand the threats and are diligent, the next time a criminal considers taking your business on, they will think twice, instead they will look for the weaker target that they think they can get in and out with out being challenged, identified and caught.

Having a comprehensive security survey completed can make a big difference in how you proceed in the future. It is not just an investment in your business, it is an investment in your staff, and will go a long way to making sure your business isn't the next headline for all the wrong reasons.

Discreet Help are a bespoke Security and Risk Management company based in Manchester and serving the UK.

​Business Continuity – What if it all goes wrong? - Is your Business ready

Manchester today is experiencing unprecedented growth and is welcoming big business from across the world. Home to the largest office based work sector outside of the capital, the majority of which are city centre based. Large US, UK, Russian and Japanese companies have headquartered here, Banking and financials institutions also. Combined with a diverse demographic in its inhabitants, Jewish and Muslim communities twice the national average all making Manchester there home.

It can be argued that foreign policies and radicalisation of communities from all backgrounds All make Manchester a more than viable target for determined groups intent on disruption and chaos. We have witnessed Right Wing Nationalist marches, riots and protests, increased fear within the our Jewish and Muslim communities and the savage devastation of terror attacks in the 1992 and 1996. 

Having recently attended the "Leaders Lunch" at Abode and listened to all the talk of "Northern Powerhouse" and "DevoManc", there is no doubting that Manchester has come along way in a relatively short space of time, and is potentially riding the crest of a wave.   

What if that wave crashed right now? What if our great and beautiful city was decimated by an act of terror, another riot or long drawn out protest again? Does your business know what to do? Could it survive, if it was placed in an exclusion zone for a few days or weeks?

Saturday 15th June 1996 11:15am an estimated 1500kg bomb explodes in the area of Corporation Street and Cross Street, demolishing parts of the Arndale Centre, Royal and Corn Exchange's and Marks and Spencer and sending  glass, debris and shockwaves right across the city including Deansgate, Manchester Cathedral and Piccadilly. Over 200 injured and treated in Hospitals, Shops, Offices and Businesses decimated. 

It is with great fortune an estimated 80,000 were evacuated from the city centre in the hours leading up to the blast, thus resulting in the minimal injuries and no loss of life on that fateful sunny Saturday morning. 4500 business were directly effected by that single act of terror. The cost to the city in 1996 was estimated at £300 million pounds and over 20% of city centre office space was directly effected by the bombing and it was reported the Co-op had to relocate over 700 staff amongst other regional offices? Perhaps the cost to individual business was immeasurable?

The threats to our city are these days less likely to come from Irish terrorism. We are however in the grip of international terrorism, felt across the world. What would a Charlie Hebdo or Mumbai type incident do to our city? Or an attack on our transport infrastructure like 7/7 in London? The riots of 2011 paralysed vast swathes of the city centre with 1000's of youths rampaging through the streets and the Police being entirely overwhelmed. 3 days of terror costing the city millions and crippling retailers and office based businesses alike.

If a similar incident were to happen here again, what policies and contingencies does your business have in place? How will you secure your premises if it remains for days and weeks inside an exclusion zone? Its not just the computers, desks and chairs and paperwork? Most likely they are insured and they can always be replaced. Its the loss of productivity, potential injury to staff, and the psychological effect such an event can have on the very people who make up your business! Is following standard evacuation procedures enough? Can we treat a fire alarm evacuation in the same way we can for a potential terror alert or civil unrest? These require planning and a great deal of thought, 50 of your staff standing in the middle of the street after being evacuated could create all manner of issues, you could be moving towards the potential threat or needlessly diverting security resources away from where its needed. Co-ordination with fellow business and strategising in addition to having your own well thought out and practiced plan are essential in order for your business to cope and survive.

Physical security and our attitude towards it are paramount, poorly thought out access systems, inadequate CCTV and poorly executed Security provisions are rife. Ask yourself some salient questions about your business and its security, I would imagine that most will answer no, don't know and it must be someone else that deals with it:

Do you have a security plan? Have you ever had a Security Survey completed on your premises? Do you even know where you are vulnerable? Who is responsible for ensuring that your current security measure are suitable and relevant?   If you are in a shared office are you aware of the security procedures for the building or floor? Do you know security situation locally, nationally and internationally? How might that effect your business here and whom you do business with? Alternative office locations should they be required - Can your staff all work from home or would you need to re-locate them for an undetermined period of time What effect would an act of terror have on your business, and you attracting clients and potential customers?

I see almost daily about how we should prepare for cyber attacks and protect our networks from attack, yet there is very little ever written or adequately done about physical security and the implications it can have on your business.

As infrequent as these acts may be they can have a cataclysmic effect on your business. Being prepared takes time and investment, the results are only ever tangible when something does go wrong. By then its too late! Forewarned is forearmed. 

We regularly provide Security Surveys and Security Planning guidance to our clients and our subject matter experts are expertly placed to help in answering the questions you have.

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So often when we go away on business trips we overlook the basics and more often even the associated risks with travelling to unfamiliar countries. Do you know what the right currency to use? Did you book an airport transfer? What about if something went wrong? A short stay in hospital could have major consequences financially but also have ramifications on your business too?

Getting stuck abroad is nothing new, as early as 1963 there were reports of over 3000 Britons stuck abroad for varying reasons, and half of which were tourists. Fast forward to todays modern business traveller, the world seems a far smaller place than it was 52 years ago and we like to think we are bit more savvy when we travel now. Often relying on technology, but what if there is a natural disaster can we rely on our smartphones and iPads then?, History suggests not . A broken leg, a mugging, kidnap, lost wallet and passport? Even an early pregnancy All happen far more than we care to think about. What if one if these were to happen to you? Would you know what to do? Whom to call? Would anyone in the UK even be aware? Where is the nearest hospital, the police and embassy? Things we take for granted at home, but in a foreign country, different cultures, and attitudes to risk can all make the simplest of things difficult.

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Thats not to say we are all doomed and should no longer travel abroad, lets face it, we need to deal globally perhaps more than ever. We do however need to manage our exposure to risk.

Before  going into business with another company or taking on a new employee, you conduct your due diligence and rightly so!

Well what about that business trip to South America, Africa, Russia or the Middle East? What do you really know about whats going on there? Is it Hurricane season? or politically unstable? What about industrial espionage and attitudes towards foreign businessmen? All important factors to know before you go!

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We offer a whole host of Travel Risk Management solutions that are all uniquely tailored to each person and there business trip, we don't believe there is a turnkey solution to Risk Management and it should be a bespoke option every time. 

We’ve come up with 10 top tips that we think will ensure your next business trip goes without a hitch! We’d love to help out more  and can provide detailed and relevant intelligence led reports for the destinations you are going to, in addition to satellite tracking and our travel chaperones too.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your next trip with us and make sure you’ve made an informed decision.

Safe travels

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Brian

Welcome to Manchester

 

After a busy few weeks at DH Towers in the effortlessly cool Didsbury Village, and an excellent Social Media Workshop courtesy of Boardroom MCR and Altrincham HQ it is high time we shouted a bit louder to everyone about who we are and what we do, and perhaps most importantly how we go about doing it! That is after all what we like to think sets us apart.

Our feet have barely touched the ground since we started in earnest with Discreet Help only 6 weeks ago. We launched with no fanfare just our grit, determination to succeed and armed with a few Networking event invitations. In that short period of times we have been very busy building key and strategic relationships across the city and beyond. We deployed Surveillance teams in to the heart of Belgravia (posh bit of West London) for several weeks, and other teams across the home counties and North West. Closer to home we have been conducting Security Surveys, Operational Planning and Travel Risk management products for an every growing client base.

We have been very graciously welcomed across the city and dozens of Networking events! We have been a little taken about how genuinely interested people have been about what we do and what makes us a different proposition to the existing market place. We are under no illusions that we are only as good as our last job and continually strive for perfection, and to ensure the client is getting the best possible service.

Rugby World Cup 2015

DH Director Brian, has been selected from over 1000 similarly qualified and experienced Security Specialists from across  the UK to represent the host organisers England Rugby as a Team Security Advisor for the forthcoming World Cup.

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This prestigious tournament has rapidly gained in popularity and is now draws the 3rd largest TV audience after the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup and this years tournament promises to be the biggest and best yet!

After written applications, psychometric testing, scores of interviews and assessments at Twickenham, Brian was selected and will start preparations as early as August and will be embedded with one of the competing teams from September through till the close of the tournament at the end of October.

To find out more about this world class competition click here www.rugbyworldcup.com

At Discreet Help we pride ourselves on the professionalism and diligence we employ on every job we do for every client. To find out why England Rugby have chosen Brian and why we can and do continue to provide the highest levels of service to our clients, please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you, and as always we discretion is assured.