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In this Article

Close Protection Skill and Qualities

19th October 2023
In this Article

Close protection, also known as executive protection or personal security, is a specialised field dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of individuals at an increased risk of harm or targeted threats. It involves a highly trained professional working diligently to create a protective environment for their clients.

The main goal of close protection is to prevent any harm or danger from reaching the individual under protection. This can include high-profile individuals, celebrities, government officials, or even corporate executives. Close protection operatives are equipped with various skills and techniques to effectively assess, analyse and mitigate potential risks.

Close protection professionals employ various strategies such as risk assessment, planning, threat intelligence gathering, and physical security measures to provide comprehensive protection. They are trained to anticipate and proactively address potential threats that may arise in various situations, including public appearances, travel, or day-to-day activities.

Close protection is about physical security and creating a sense of comfort and peace of mind for the client. Close protection professionals are well-versed in communication, conflict resolution, and crisis management, ensuring their clients always feel supported and safe.

Overall, close protection is a vital service that combines expertise, vigilance, and dedication to safeguard individuals in potentially high-risk situations. By providing a protective shield, close protection professionals allow their clients to focus on their work, personal lives, and pursuits, knowing that their safety is in capable hands.

Understanding the Roles and Responsibilities of a Close Protection Operative

Close protection involves a team of professionals who work together to ensure the safety and security of their clients. A list of the key roles within close protection:

Close Protection Officer (CPO): The Close Protection Officer is at the forefront of the security team. They are responsible for providing direct protection to the client, assessing potential risks, and implementing security measures accordingly. CPOs are highly trained in defensive tactics, surveillance, and emergency response.

Security Driver: The Security Driver is a specialised role in close protection. They are skilled in defensive driving techniques, ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of the client. Security Drivers are trained to handle various scenarios on the road. 

Team Leader (TL): The Team Leader is responsible for overseeing the entire close protection operation. They coordinate the security team, manage logistics, and make real-time critical decisions. The Team Leader ensures that all security measures are implemented effectively and that the team operates smoothly.

Security Advance Party: (SAP) The Advance Party consists of security professionals conducting thorough research and risk assessments before the client arrives at a particular location. They gather intelligence, survey venues, and prepare detailed security plans. The Advance Party ensures that all necessary arrangements are in place to maintain the client's safety.

These are just a few examples of the roles within close protection. Others have not been mentioned, such as the escort section and medical support, again important team members. Depending on each operation's complexity and specific requirements, the team composition may vary. However, all roles work collaboratively to ensure the safety and security of the client. Invariably, the team is the CPO and a driver.

The Importance of Interpersonal Skills in Close Protection

Interpersonal skills play a crucial role in the field of close protection. 


Effective communication is vital in close protection, allowing security professionals to convey instructions, share information, and coordinate actions. It helps build trust and understanding between team members, the principal, and clients, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and able to respond swiftly and efficiently in any given situation


Negotiation skills are invaluable when dealing with potentially volatile or challenging situations. Close protection professionals often find themselves in scenarios where they must find peaceful resolutions, diffuse conflicts, or handle delicate matters diplomatically. Strong negotiation skills enable them to manage these situations tactfully, ensuring the safety and well-being of all parties involved.


Etiquette is essential in close protection as it reflects professionalism and respect. Having good manners and following proper protocols helps security professionals establish positive relationships with the principal, clients, colleagues, and the public. It also contributes to maintaining a low-profile presence, which is crucial in protecting the privacy and safety of the individuals they are assigned to.


Discretion is a critical skill for close protection professionals. It involves maintaining confidentiality and safeguarding sensitive information. Operating with discretion ensures that principle and clients can trust their security team to handle their affairs with utmost confidentiality, preserving their privacy and minimising potential risks.


Close protection professionals should be empathetic to understand and relate to their principles and clients' needs and concerns. By putting themselves in their principals' shoes, they can tailor their security approach to provide the necessary level of support and reassurance. Empathy fosters a strong principle-security professional relationship, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the protection provided.


Patience is a virtue that close protection professionals must possess. It allows them to remain calm and composed during potentially stressful or challenging situations. Patience enables security professionals to think rationally, make sound decisions, and adapt to unexpected circumstances without compromising the safety of their clients.

In summary, effective communication, negotiation, etiquette, discretion, empathy, and patience are all indispensable interpersonal skills in the field of close protection. Together, they contribute to establishing trust, maintaining professionalism, and ensuring the safety and well-being of those under protection.

Threat Assessment and Risk Management in Close Protection

Threat assessment and risk management are crucial aspects of close protection. By evaluating potential threats and implementing effective risk management strategies, you can enhance the safety and security of individuals under your protection. Here are some key points to consider:

Threat Assessment

Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of the environment, including the location, potential risks, and any known threats. This may involve gathering intelligence, consulting with local authorities, and analysing historical data.

Identify Vulnerabilities

Determine the vulnerabilities of the individual or group you are protecting. This could include their habits, routines, or any specific factors that might make them more susceptible to threats.

Risk Mitigation

Develop a comprehensive plan to mitigate potential risks. This may involve implementing physical security measures such as access controls, surveillance systems, or secure transportation. It could also include personal protection measures, including situational awareness and defensive driving.

Emergency Preparedness

Establish communication protocols, emergency response plans and identify safe areas or evacuation routes for emergencies. Regularly conduct drills and ensure everyone involved is familiar with the procedures.

Intelligence Gathering

Continuously gather intelligence to stay informed about potential threats or changes. This can be done through various means, including liaising with local authorities, maintaining a network of contacts, and monitoring relevant Open-Source Intelligence (OSInt).


Close protection often involves collaboration with other professionals, such as law emergency services and private security companies; establishing strong working relationships and open lines of communication can significantly enhance threat assessment and risk management efforts.

Practical threat assessment and risk management require a proactive approach, attention to detail, and adapting to changing circumstances. By prioritising the safety and security of those under your protection, you can create a secure environment while providing peace of mind.

Surveillance Awareness and Techniques

Surveillance awareness and techniques play a vital role in close protection. By being vigilant and knowledgeable about surveillance, you can detect potential threats, prevent harm, and ensure the safety of the individuals you protect. Here's why surveillance awareness is crucial:

Early Detection

Surveillance awareness allows you to identify and recognise potential surveillance activities at an early stage. By being alert to signs of suspicious behaviour or individuals, you can take appropriate measures to mitigate risks and prevent incidents from occurring.

Threat Assessment

Observing and understanding surveillance techniques can help you assess the threat or danger posed to the individuals you are protecting. Recognising patterns, monitoring behaviours, and analysing the intent behind the surveillance can provide valuable insights into potential risks.

Response Planning

Awareness of surveillance enables you to develop effective response plans. By identifying potential surveillance threats, you can strategise countermeasures and implement appropriate security measures to neutralise or deter the threat.

Situational Awareness

Surveillance awareness enhances overall situational awareness. By maintaining a heightened sense of observation, you can gather critical information, identify potential risks, and make informed decisions to ensure the safety and security of those under your protection.

Communication and Coordination

Surveillance awareness fosters effective communication and coordination amongst the close protection team. By sharing observations and information about surveillance activities, you can collaborate with others to enhance security measures and respond swiftly to any potential threats.

Proactive Approach

Surveillance awareness allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. By actively monitoring and assessing surveillance activities, you can anticipate potential threats, adapt security measures, and minimise vulnerabilities before an incident occurs.

Remember, surveillance awareness and techniques are not limited to physical surveillance but may include digital or cyber surveillance. Staying updated with the latest surveillance techniques and technologies is crucial in today's ever-evolving security landscape. By prioritising surveillance awareness, you can enhance the effectiveness of close protection and ensure the safety of those you are responsible for.

Mastering Foot Drills

Mastering foot drills is vital in close protection for several reasons:

Discipline and Professionalism

Foot drills help instil discipline, precision, and professionalism in close protection personnel. By mastering foot drills, individuals learn to move and act in a synchronised and coordinated manner, reflecting a high level of professionalism and attention to detail.

Team Cohesion

Foot drills require close protection personnel to work together as a team, following commands and moving in unison. This promotes team cohesion, unity, and a sense of camaraderie, which is crucial for effective teamwork in close protection operations.

Physical Fitness and Coordination

Foot drills involve repetitive movements and precise footwork, which contribute to physical fitness and coordination. Mastering these drills improves agility, balance, and overall physical capabilities, enabling close protection personnel to respond quickly and effectively in dynamic situations.

Security and Perimeter Control

Foot drills provide a structured security and perimeter control approach. By mastering drills such as formation changes, halt commands, or quick movements, close protection personnel can efficiently establish and maintain secure perimeters, ensuring the safety of the individuals they are protecting.

Professional Appearance

Close protection personnel are often visible to the public and need to project a professional image. Mastering foot drills helps in developing a uniform and polished appearance, with well-coordinated movements and synchronised actions, enhancing the overall professional image of the close protection team.

Situational Awareness

Close protection personnel are required to maintain situational awareness while performing foot drills. This means being aware of their surroundings, observing potential threats, and staying focused on their duties. Mastering foot drills helps develop the ability to maintain situational awareness even during demanding and physically challenging situations.

Confidence and Mental Preparedness

Mastering foot drills boosts confidence and mental preparedness in close protection personnel. By practising and perfecting these drills, individuals develop a sense of self-assurance, which translates into a more assertive and confident presence during close protection operations.

Mastering foot drills in close protection enhances discipline, teamwork, physical capabilities, security measures, appearance, situational awareness, and confidence. It contributes to the professional and effective execution of close protection duties, ensuring the safety and security of the individuals under protection.

Ensuring Venue Security

Ensuring venue safety is essential in close protection for several reasons:

Protection of Individuals

The primary goal of close protection is to ensure the safety and security of the individuals being protected. Close protection teams can minimise the risk of harm or threats to the individuals under their care by ensuring venue safety. This includes preventing unauthorised access, managing potential hazards, and creating a secure environment that allows protected individuals to go about their activities without fear or disruption.

Mitigating Risks

Close protection involves identifying and mitigating potential risks and threats. Ensuring venue safety is an essential aspect of risk management. By assessing the venue and its surroundings, close protection teams can identify potential vulnerabilities and take appropriate measures to minimise risk. This may include implementing access controls, conducting thorough security checks, and establishing emergency response protocols.

Maintaining Confidentiality

Close protection often involves protecting high-profile or sensitive individuals. Ensuring venue safety is crucial for maintaining confidentiality and privacy. By implementing stringent security measures, such as controlling access to the venue and monitoring for unauthorised recording devices, close protection teams can prevent the compromise of sensitive information or the invasion of privacy.

Reputation and Trust

The safety and security of the venue reflect directly on the importance and trustworthiness of the close protection service provider. Suppose a venue is not adequately secured and an incident occurs. In that case, it can have severe consequences for the close protection team's reputation and ability to provide effective protection. By ensuring venue safety, close protection teams can demonstrate their competence, professionalism, and commitment to providing a secure environment for their clients.

Compliance with Regulations

Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the event or venue, there may be legal or regulatory requirements for venue safety. Close protection teams must adhere to these regulations to avoid legal repercussions and ensure the safety of all individuals involved. Compliance with regulations may include measures such as fire safety, crowd management, and emergency evacuation procedures.

Overall, ensuring venue safety is essential in close protection to protect individuals, mitigate risks, maintain confidentiality, uphold the reputation and trust of the close protection service provider, and comply with legal and regulatory requirements. By prioritising venue safety, close protection teams can create a secure environment that allows their clients to operate without undue risk or concern.

Route Planning for Close Protection Assignments

Route planning in close protection involves carefully selecting the safest and most secure routes for individuals under protection to travel. Here are some key considerations in route planning:

Risk Assessment

Before planning a route, a thorough risk assessment should be conducted to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities. This includes assessing the security of the route, such as crime rates, the presence of hostile actors, or known high-risk areas. Other factors to consider, include traffic conditions, road infrastructure, and potential natural hazards.

Intelligence Gathering

Intelligence on the current security situation is crucial in route planning. This can involve monitoring local news, consulting with local law enforcement or security agencies, and utilising any available threat assessments or intelligence reports. Close protection teams can make informed decisions when selecting a route by staying informed about the local security environment.

Alternate Routes

Identifying alternate routes is essential to maintain flexibility and avoid predictability. Multiple routes allow close protection teams to change the route on short notice if there are any security concerns or disruptions. This also helps to prevent potential surveillance or ambushes by adversaries who may have anticipated the primary route.

Traffic Patterns and Congestion

Close protection teams must consider traffic patterns and congestion when planning routes. Heavy traffic or congested areas can increase the vulnerability of individuals under protection, making them more susceptible to attacks or delays. Monitoring real-time traffic updates and using navigation tools can help identify the best times and routes to minimise traffic-related risks.

Local Infrastructure and Amenities

Route planning should take into account the availability of essential amenities such as hospitals, police stations, and secure parking areas along the route. Close protection teams need to ensure that these facilities are easily accessible in case of emergencies or security incidents.

Communication and Coordination

Effective communication and coordination among team members are crucial during the journey. Establishing communication protocols and maintaining regular contact with the individuals under protection and other relevant stakeholders help monitor their status and respond promptly to any incidents or changes in the route.

Contingency Plans

Route planning should include developing contingency plans for unforeseen events or emergencies. This includes identifying alternative safe locations or rally points along the route where individuals can seek shelter or regroup in an emergency. Having contingency plans in place ensures that close protection teams are prepared to handle any unexpected situations.

Overall, route planning in close protection requires a comprehensive assessment of risks, intelligence gathering, consideration of traffic patterns, identification of alternate routes, and establishment of contingency plans. By carefully planning the route, close protection teams can enhance the safety and security of the individuals under their protection during their travels.

The Role of Reconnaissance in Close Protection

The security advance party plays a crucial role in close protection operations. Their main objective is to ensure the safety and security of the individual or group being protected by conducting thorough risk assessments and reconnaissance, which may include implementing necessary security measures prior to their arrival.

First and foremost, the advance party is responsible for gathering intelligence and assessing potential risks and threats in the area where the protected person or group will visit. This includes studying the local environment, identifying potential security vulnerabilities, and liaising with local law enforcement and security personnel to gather relevant information.

Once the potential risks are identified, the advance party can support in the development of a comprehensive security plan tailored to the specific needs of the protected person or group. This may involve coordinating with local authorities to provide additional security resources, establishing secure travel routes, and conducting site surveys to assess the security of venues or locations to be visited.

Furthermore, the advance party is responsible for implementing security measures to mitigate potential risks. They may establish a secure perimeter, conduct thorough background checks on individuals involved in the visit, and coordinate with local security personnel to ensure a seamless security operation.

Another significant role of the advance party is to serve as a liaison between the protected person or group and local authorities. They can facilitate communication, coordinate security arrangements, and act as a point of contact for any security-related concerns or emergencies during the visit.

The security advance party is crucial in close protection operations as they lay the groundwork for a safe and secure environment. Their meticulous planning, intelligence gathering, and implementation of security measures help to minimise potential risks and ensure the well-being of the protected individuals or groups.

Journey Management in Close Protection

Journey management is of utmost importance in close protection operations as it focuses on efficiently and safely managing the movement of the protected person or group from one location to another. This process involves careful planning, risk assessment, and implementation of security measures to ensure a secure and smooth journey.

One key aspect of journey management is pre-planning. This involves conducting a thorough assessment of the travel route, identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities, and developing contingency plans for any unforeseen circumstances. By understanding the route and potential risks, the close protection team can proactively mitigate those risks and ensure a safer journey.

Another crucial element of journey management is the implementation of security measures during travel. This includes coordinating with local law enforcement or security agencies to provide an escort or additional security personnel if necessary. The close protection team may also establish communication protocols, such as using secure channels or devices, to maintain constant communication and monitor the progress of the journey.

Additionally, journey management includes ongoing risk assessment and situational awareness during travel. The close protection team must remain vigilant, continuously assessing the environment for any potential threats or changes that could impact the safety of the protected person or group. This allows them to make real-time adjustments to the travel plan if required and take immediate action to address any emerging risks.

By effectively managing the journey, the close protection team ensures the physical safety of the protected person or group. It minimises the risk of potential incidents or disruptions. Their careful planning, implementation of security measures, and proactive approach to risk management contribute to a secure and successful journey.

Overall, journey management is essential in close protection as it allows for effective coordination, security, and smooth execution

Physical Penetration Testing in Close Protection

Physical Penetration Testing in Close Protection is important in close protection for several reasons:

Identifying Vulnerabilities

Physical Penetration Testing helps in identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the physical security measures and systems of a close protection operation. It involves simulating real-world scenarios to test the effectiveness of access controls, surveillance systems, alarm systems, locks, and other security measures. By identifying vulnerabilities, the close protection team can take appropriate measures to address them and enhance the overall security of the operation.

Assessing Response Capabilities

Physical Penetration Testing allows the close protection team to assess their response capabilities in the event of a security breach or threat. It helps in evaluating the effectiveness of emergency response protocols, communication systems, coordination among team members, and decision-making processes. This assessment enables the team to identify areas for improvement and enhance their ability to mitigate risks and respond effectively to security incidents.

Testing Contingency Plans

Physical Penetration Testing provides an opportunity to test contingency plans and emergency procedures. It helps in evaluating the effectiveness of evacuation plans, emergency exits, alternative routes, safe rooms, and other contingency measures. By testing these plans, the close protection team can identify any weaknesses or gaps and make necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of the individuals under protection.

Training and Skill Development

Physical Penetration Testing serves as a valuable training tool for close protection personnel. It allows them to apply their skills and knowledge in realistic scenarios, enhancing their decision-making abilities, problem-solving skills, and overall preparedness. It also helps in identifying areas where additional training or skill development may be needed, ensuring that the team is well-equipped to handle different security challenges.

Demonstrating Compliance

Physical Penetration Testing is often required to demonstrate compliance with industry standards, regulations, and client expectations. By conducting regular testing and assessments, close protection teams can provide evidence of their commitment to maintaining a high level of security and ensuring the safety of the individuals they protect. This can enhance the reputation and credibility of the close protection service provider.

Physical Penetration Testing is essential in close protection as it helps identify vulnerabilities, assess response capabilities, test contingency plans, provide training opportunities, and demonstrate compliance. By proactively testing and evaluating the physical security measures and systems, close protection teams can enhance their ability to mitigate risks, respond effectively to security incidents, and ensure the safety and security of their clients.

Master Your Protection Skills with HZL Close Protection Course
Close Protection is an art that demands a blend of astute vigilance, adept interpersonal skills, and a strategic mindset. From ensuring the safety of high-profile individuals to mastering the finesse of foot drills, every facet of close protection holds its unique importance. Our specialised Close Protection Course at HZL Group delves into the intricacies of this field, offering a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical skill-building to prepare you for real-world protective scenarios. With a focus on holistic security solutions, our course empowers you to navigate through potential risks with confidence, ensuring the utmost safety of those under your guard. Embrace the opportunity to elevate your close protection expertise under the guidance of seasoned professionals.