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- Women in Security Awards
Author Richard J Aitch
Review date 18/11/2017
No of pages 567
Publisher Close Protection Publications
Publisher URL http://www.cpbook.co.uk
Year of publication 11/09/2012
A substantial - in more than one sense - book on close protection offers an authoritative guide to CP and ends with a blast at the sector’s regulator, the Security Industry Authority.
Close Protection by Richard Aitch is a disconcertingly heavy hardback; it weighs more than 1.6kg. As a piece of kit it’s not something to carry with you in the field. The unspoken upshot is: if you need to carry this around with you on the job, the job is not for you. A former Parachute Regiment and Royal Military Police Close Protection (CP) Unit man, Aitch wastes no time in calling the SIA’s qualification for bodyguards as ‘poor’ and ‘unfit for purpose’. He points out that you can gain the CP SIA badge without a driving licence or any health or fitness test, and queries if anything has been gained by the CP licence. But the bulk of the book is not a condemnation of the regulator - to sum up, he calls it ‘a travesty in the making’ that ‘churned out plastic clones of empty suits that were simply unfit for purpose’ - but a detailed and well-illustrated chapter by chapter description of the CP’s job, taking in threat assessment, planning, security of the principal’s residence and estate, unarmed combat training, communications, reconnaissance, and plenty on walking and travel - including tactical driving and getting in and out (embussing and debussing). While Aitch does not write that much about his work - guarding ambassadors and others in such risky countries as Algeria and the former Yugoslavia - that may be due to the sensitive nature of the work and his then employer, namely the British state. He does alert the reader to real-life CP issues and niggles - such as the need to keep an eye on the client’s luggage being wheeled into the hotel; and being patient while the principal (’the Boss’) dines in a restaurant. Why not take a seat and have a coffee, and a meal yourself, rather than stand awkwardly? Aitch advises. Above all, understand the risk and assess. Complicating the CP operative’s work is the Boss, who may be ignorant of the CP’s reasoning and resent what he sees as restrictions. But as General Sir Rupert Smith (himself the author of the important The Utility of Force) writes in the foreword, himself ‘close protected’ for years in Sarajevo and Northern Ireland: “It is my experience that you the ‘principal’ or ‘boss’ get the protection you deserve.” Isn’t that true of all private security, and indeed any service? It will be news to many readers that when under direct armed attack, it’s unwise for the bodyguard to simply put themselves in front of the principal. “Bullet catchers we are not,” Aitch says plainly. Instead of being static, the bodyguard should push the principal one way and move the other, to ‘get off the X’, ‘X’ being the spot the assassin is aiming at.
The New Bodyguard: A Practical Guide to the close protection industry, by Kevin Horak of Clearwater Special Projects, is in its second edition, and was reviewed in our January 2011 issue). It costs £20 plus postage; Aitch’s book costs twice that. If you are spending thousands of pounds on training for an SIA licence, it seems silly to be put off the price of either. Asking which is better is the wrong question. Aitch’s is longer and focused on the CP tasks; Horak’s offers more on the finding of work and making a career as a freelance. Any drawbacks to Aitch’s book are hardly his fault: for one thing, that parts of the book are useful for hotel, and port and airport, security managers, who would not think to buy and read the whole. Likewise a short chapter on CP team leaders is worth any security team leader reading. Aitch lambasts the ‘appalling standards’ of the SIA CP licence, but a door security or manned guarding reader could tell him that doormen and guards are the main sectors fuelling the SIA, and CP is such a niche sector, although requiring 150 hours of training, that you - and the UK public - can hardly expect the SIA to devote attention to CP at the expense of guarding and door staff. Bodyguards have lives in their hands, and - again as pointed out in Sir Rupert Smith’s foreword - yet are low key; to let the principal do his work (or pleasure?!). Bodyguards have, as Aitch sets out in a short chapter ‘What makes a good close protection operative’, a long list of qualities to work to: they must be patient, methodical, diplomatic, physically fit enough to carry someone, able to blend in and clean-shaven: “By virtue, close protection is close and you must be exemplary in appearance as well as in the conduct of your duties.”
Close Protection: A Closer Observation of the Protection Equation, by Richard J Aitch. Hardback, ISBN 9780957 207 509. Visit www.cpbook.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Richard Aitch has more than 25 years of military, government and commercial Close Protection, surveillance and security experience.
He has served in both the Parachute Regiment and Royal Military Police Close Protection Unit and has provided Close Protection in military and civilian arenas to British Ambassadors and UK Special Envoys for and on behalf of the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, several members of the British and Saudi Royal families, Members of Parliament, personal bodyguard to two General Officers Commanding British Forces in Northern Ireland, A-list celebrities, CEOs, owners of world leading companies and some of the world’s most powerful and influential business leaders.
He has managed and led Close Protection operations as team leader in 48 countries across six continents in all threat environments in addition to managing covert surveillance operations. Visit www.cpbook.co.uk.