Close Protection (CP) is more widely known by the general public as the role undertaken by people calling themselves ‘Bodyguards’. It often conjures up the image of a large-framed individual sporting dark glasses and looking menacing much like the villain of many a modern film. The presence of a large and frightening individual as a fashion accessory to the rich and famous can act as a good deterrent to the over-enthusiastic fan, but it will not necessarily deter the mentally ill, a stalker or a committed criminal. The old-fashioned bodyguard’s role tended to consist of just being a presence, and generally lacked a degree of pro-active thinking to prevent potential problems from developing. This simplistic approach to protection is therefore geared to reacting to threats and difficulties, rather than preventing them from occurring in the first place.

UK and International CP requires a much broader pro-active mix of personal and security related skills to protect a diverse range of clients. These clients can range from the unrecognised corporate principal in a western democracy, to guarding a high-risk VIP in a very hostile environment. In both these protection scenarios the core role to preserve the life of the principal remains the same, but the methodology adopted to provide effective close protection is often poles apart.


Security Industry Authority (SIA) Licensing


The Private Security Industry Act 2001 established the Security Industry Authority (SIA) as the government regulatory body for the private security industry in England and Wales. The SIA has a broad portfolio of responsibilities but particularly the systematic licensing of all the private security industry sectors. In respect of the CP sector, since the 20th March 2006 anyone operating as a Close Protection Operative (CPO) in England and Wales (and in Scotland from the 1st November 2007) has been legally required to hold a valid SIA close protection licence. A licence granted by the SIA will be subject to the applicant proving identity, successfully completing structured training by an SIA approved company and the satisfactory results of a criminal record check with the Criminal Records Bureau.

Although technically a private CPO operating outside Britain in say Iraq or Afghanistan does not require an SIA licence, it is becoming increasingly common for most major security companies to insist on this as a minimum requirement for UK or International employment.