As with any other threat-focused evaluation, a route risk assessment centers around determining risks and mitigating potential consequences. Careful route selection is everything when it comes to the safety of the principal and their entourage.
While spending time in a vehicle, the passengers ― including the principal and protective detail ― hold a false sense of safety. Most of the time, they believe that they are more secure there than on the outside. This is a wrong assumption that may lead to complacency of the protection team.
During transit, the vehicle or cars are at the mercy of traffic conditions, speed limits, road works, and weather.
In fact, everyday experience of executive protection professionals points to an interesting truth. The principal, i.e., the person who is on the receiving end of protective services, is more at risk while in transit.
According to Peter Consterdine, author of The Modern Bodyguard, up to 80% of kidnappings occur with the victim in or near the vehicle. One standard recommendation in this sense is employing preventative tactics. These include varying the route and timing of commuting.
Although pre-planning several routes may increase the workload of an executive protection team, it provides numerous benefits, including:
- Making it easier to coordinate avoidance patterns while en-route and the vehicle and time within the overall protection plan.
- Providing a sense of familiarity to the principal concerning safe havens between the office and home, including police, ambulance, and fire stations. Also, the person receiving protection learns the location of side roads and streets if they need to take evasive action.
A route risk assessment is so much more than a mere piece of analog or digital paper. Your EP team uses it to rigorously dissect all possible situations that may arise during a commute or business trip.
Preparing For All Types of Journeys
Staying alert during the commute will do wonders during different journeys, including daily, short notice, and special or specific ones.
All three must be a subject of careful deliberation. For instance, the special or specific journey concerns itself primarily with pre-trip publicity. If you ― as the principal ― are traveling to a public event that everybody is aware of, that may pose a particular danger.
On the other hand, the short notice journey is the least problematic from a security standpoint. There is no routine or pattern to detect in this type of travel, and almost no advanced warning is involved.
Thirdly, the daily journey is the riskiest one, as it may necessitate a routine.
Plans and Contingencies
Proficient executive protection individuals know well that the risk rises substantially on the move. But, unfortunately, some security agents tend to have a questionable tendency to negate that increase in risk. They do so by carrying out vast amounts of detailed route selection, planning, and reconnaissance.
Remember that getting caught out is likely to happen when overplanning but not preparing for contingencies.
Contingencies exist to allow for options in the event of losing communications or vehicles. From the experience of numerous protection agents, it is a hard fact that an overreliance on communication kits will inevitably lead to issues when they stop working.
To counter all that trouble, we bring you a few proven general principles of planning and route selection:
- Avoid all aspects of a routine.
- Pick a route that allows the maximum safe speed, and remember that shortest is not always the safest.
- Demand accurate timings.
- Employ the ‘need to know’ principle.
- Plan alternative routes.
- Choose the right vehicle for the trip.
- Secure a large enough number of protection staff and vehicles for the task.
All these are most effective when implemented in unison.
Building a Sound Route Risk Assessment
In creating a distinctive route risk assessment, your EP team needs to employ a few checklists. As with matters related to one’s personal life, checklists are handy as they contain all necessary items that those who use them need to consider.
To provide state-of-the-art protection while en route, companies like SCS first assess all the vulnerable points. During any travel within a vehicle, here is a list of items to examine as they can make an enormous difference:
- Traffic lights,
- Heavy traffic,
- Tall buildings,
- Unlit areas,
- Roundabouts and junctions,
- Bottlenecks and level crossings,
- Bridges, culverts, tunnels,
- Trees and thick scrub,
- Areas of combustible material, known high crime, terrorists, lawlessness,
- Large hoardings,
- Parked cars and red lights,
- One-way streets, and
- Narrow roads, sharp bends, high banks.
Although this is only a tiny fraction of the overall route risk assessment, it is an excellent place to start.
Pro-tip: A map study should always be at hand. Observe if your protective detail is picking the widest, fastest route with the least vulnerable points.
Other Vital Considerations
To avoid being caught in the crosshairs of attackers, your protection team must collect all additional information that may seem even remotely important. These include the exact mileage, radio blackspots, recovery facilities, and public telephones.
Remember that information that looks trivial to a layperson can be essential to an executive protection professional. Moreover, it is imperative to learn about safe havens, ideal embus and debus points (i.e., secure transport of the principal to the vehicle and vice versa), and parking at venues.
Additionally, one feature in creating a solid route evaluation is the driver. To carry out a route risk assessment in the first place, security drivers must possess skills of offensive and defensive evasive driving. Be wary that ordinary chauffeurs are not the best choice.
Some general rules that apply to them in the pre-planning phase are related to:
- Briefing all passengers,
- Establishing timings,
- Choosing and knowing the vehicles.
Principals do not need to know all the details of a route risk assessment. Actually, we recommend that their executive protection team instruct them on a specific role, if any. For instance, the principal may need to be familiar with safe havens and sitting positions in the vehicle. This information can lead to better chances of survival and prevention of more serious consequences in case of emergencies.
In conclusion, a route risk assessment is a vital component of the pre-planning process. It contains several principles and rules that, when applied, can result in a safe journey from point A to point B.
Provided your executive protection team is familiar with all the aspects presented here, you can be confident in your protective detail.
Alternatively, reach out to us to find out more about SCS’s secure transportation services.