Personal Security – When work comes home

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Personal Security issues outside the workplace

One of the principles of working as a security operative that I have always stood by is the notion that it is just a job. While it’s a profession that I enjoy and am proud of it is not something that is all consuming for me. I have a life outside of work and I like to think that keeping those 2 things separate helps me to be more balanced and a better person in both. The unfortunate reality in modern society is that with the role comes an inherent level of risk that seeps into our personal life. People who we meet in a professional capacity sometimes seek to do us harm at a time and place of their choosing not of ours. These are the low likelihood/high impact risks that generally get missed from a safety statement or risk assessment due to their rarity but they do happen and it is important to recognise that. What this means is that I must take some of the situational awareness I apply to my professional life and apply some common-sense measures in my personal life to keep myself and most importantly my loved one’s safe.

Why does it happen?

Sometimes these incidents happen because We have made a situation personal with a person through error or bad attitude, sometimes We just come across a genuinely bad person with a criminal intent and sometimes We are a victim of circumstance (wrong place, wrong time). These types of situations can never be completely avoided but we can put some sensible controls in place to reduce risk.

Don’t get paranoid

I’m not trying to make you paranoid here and I don’t want people to become worried to the point where we are ineffective in our work or personal lives due to worry. But it’s sensible to think this through and come up with some strategies. We also don’t want to worry our loved ones (a friend once mentioned to me that if he told his wife half of the incidents he dealt with at work she would have made him change job) but I also think it’s sensible to talk through the what if situations with the important people in your life. What if a person begins to shout at me in the street? What if a person knocks at the front door asking if I live there? What if you somebody asks about my work in the local shop or bar? We can’t expect our loved ones to do the right thing if we don’t explain to them what the right thing is.

Bad things happen in bad places

In the book ‘Dead or Alive‘ by Geoff Thompson (highly recommended) he talks about the very simple concept of bad things happening to good people who go to bad places. The solution is easy; don’t go to bad places. Don’t bring your partner to dodgy bars, don’t bring your kids to dodgy playgrounds. The civil liberty heroes and tough guys will probably argue that we have a right to eat, drink or play wherever we want and they are right. But having the right to do something and being situationally aware enough to know not to are two different things. It’s a simple concept really.

The online arena

Take a read of this article here (don’t forget to come back to finish this article)

We all take our personal safety seriously while we are at work but how many of us leave ourselves vulnerable through our social media profiles.

The security officer in this case found out just how simple it is for criminals to track and target security professionals via social media. Thankfully in this instance nobody was hurt and the perpetrator was dealt with in court.

The physical/online divide

On my security training courses, I regularly discuss personal safety and the uses and risks of social media. My general advice for security professionals when using social media:

1. Adjust your privacy settings to restrict access to your photographs and personal information.
2. Don’t accepts strangers as friends, followers or connections on social media.
3. Don’t post photos of your home or place of work on-line.
4. Restrict public access to photographs of your family and friends on-line.
5. Report and block on-line abuse and threats.
6.Treat all instances of on-line abuse, threats or malicious posts as real.
7. Periodically review your friends and connections and remove those who you no longer wish to keep in contact with.

Social media can be a fantastic tool and asset for security professionals but we should never forget that it can also pose a very real risk to us and should be managed like any other safety concern. The line between online and physical is not as wide as we may like to believe.

Blend in

I spotted a person walking down a city street about two years ago. Now in my old age my memory is fading slightly but I vividly remember this guy. He wore a black jacket with SECURITY in large white letters on the back and one the front. He had a matching baseball cap (because matching outfits are stylish) a utility belt and boots. What’s worse is that the guy wasn’t working. He was doing some shopping (maybe on a break) and it certainly wasn’t any company uniform I’ve ever seen. My point is that he was sticking out and in the wrong environment that will attract trouble. What we have is a profession and the true professional ones are the quiet ones. Your uniform represents your professional role but outside of that it isn’t needed. I always advise security operatives to lose the uniform as soon as they finish work regardless of the sector.

Don’t make enemies

I know what you’re thinking here; ‘sometimes this can’t be helped’ and you’re right. But let’s restrict the issue to those that genuinely can’t be helped. I’m talking here about the genuinely nasty individuals that regardless of what you do want to make an enemy of you because of the uniform they exist. They are rare but they exist. I’m talking about avoiding making personal issues with all the rest of the people we deal with. There will be enough trouble which comes your way over the course of a career without looking for trouble. Always remember that you might be able to manage a person while at work but it’s a whole different situation on a Saturday morning playground with the kids.


At the end of the day no job is worth constant worry and stress. Personal security is something we all must be aware of but something we can manage and control. I’m not talking about taking circuitous routes home or running counter surveillance detection (although this may be required on high risk contracts) but taking some sensible precautions. We live in an era of freely available information and we work in a role that values privacy. The two aren’t compatible so we need to take measures that safeguard ourselves, our loved ones and our privacy.


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