Bodyguards, now commonly known as Personal Protection or Close Protection Officers (CPOs), protect individuals or groups from risk of violence or kidnapping, or any situation deemed harmful to the client. They work with a wide range of people including Heads of State; politicians; celebrities from the world of film, music and television; sports personalities; and heads of industry. They need to work discreetly whilst offering full cover.
The work includes protecting the client from threats of physical violence; checking out premises before the client arrives; accompanying the client on business and social visits; and driving the client to and from venues. Threats to clients could come from a range of sources including terrorist organisations, political opponents, stalkers or over-enthusiastic fans.
Some will specialise in residential security, ensuring the client's premises are secure. Others may train to be chauffeurs specialising in defensive and evasive driving. The aim is to spot a potential threat or disruption before it happens, so pre-operational planning and research are essential.
Although much of a CPO's time can involve periods of inactivity, they must be in a constant state of readiness to react if a threatening situation develops.
CPOs may have to work long shifts, covering 24-hour protection, and working evenings and weekends. They might work at indoor or outdoor venues such as conferences, political meetings and rallies, corporate events, and social events.
They may have to travel frequently, spending long periods travelling by car, train, and aeroplane. The work can involve periods away from home, sometimes overseas, accompanying clients on trips.
A driving licence is essential.
To be a bodyguard you should:
Employers include state and private organisations as well as private individuals. Those working for the state may be specially trained police officers or military personnel, often from the Royal Military Police or Special Forces.
The majority of CPOs are self-employed on long-term or short-term contracts, which can be anything from a few days to months.
A number of commercial firms and agencies offer close protection services. They are mainly based in London and usually employ CPOs who are ex-police or military, or who are recommended - they seldom advertise.
There are opportunities to specialise in surveillance, driving, residential security etc. There are also opportunities for more experienced CPOs to move into consultancy work.
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