The selection process to become a Royalty Protection Officer at SO14(2) is one of the most difficult within the whole of the Metropolitan Police Service, it involves a comprehensive practical assessment and a gruelling interview, where you are required to prove that you have already obtained the valuable and vast policing experiences, as well as having the correct personality to be able to fulfil this prestigious role. If you are successful within this selection process it does not end there. You are required to undertake further rigorous training and continuous assessment during a foundation course (Protection Officers Course). Some skills and experiences I had previously obtained, such as Advanced Driving, Unarmed Combat Instructor and Firearms classifications from my time on the Force Firearms Unit (SO19) and the Public Order Department (TSG). These skills and experiences are then combined with the core skills of a Protection Officer such as walking formations, arrivals and departures, event planning, recce’s, dilemma’s and protocol. Other courses you are required to complete include anti-hijack driving, and high threat environments deployments and tactics. As an experienced Police Officer you have already been selected to get to this point because of your inter-personal skills, with communication being the main requirement, add to that conflict resolution, environmental awareness, legislation, contingency planning and resourcefulness. You are ready to begin the practical learning to be a Protection Officer. The whole process of layered training by increasing the skill base, broadening the experiences and continually testing the results and evaluating the learning achieved, creates a Protection Officer who has undertaken nearly 6 months of formulised training and has been conditioned to operate at the highest level in unique and challenging circumstances, with the world’s number one family.
All the training is then put into practice to gain a genuine and unrivalled operational experience protecting the Royal Family in both their official and private lives at home and abroad.
Every aspect of that training and experience is used in every deployment to a varying degree, depending on the nature of the day and the events contained within that day. The work that goes into one official visit for a senior member of the family will have taken place over many months. Meetings, recce’s, plans drawn up, resources decided on in relation to staffing levels, modes of transport, routes and parking availability. It is an endless list, all with a proactive response using contingency planning. Whilst in the planning phase you need to keep asking yourself “what if this happens? What if that happens?”.As a Protection Officer you are representing The Royal Family, The Metropolitan Police Service, Her Majesty’s Government and when overseas you represent Great Britain. You are required negotiate with some and be strong with others in order to achieve your operational goals.
The plan will be checked and double checked. The route walked countless times, the greeting line up checked and organised. Event management becomes a key attribute within the role as people will look to you to achieve a seamless event as nobody wants it to go wrong. Planning through communication is key to achieving what is required.
Liaison with the host force and understanding what resources they have provided, being aware of the local area, hospitals, places of safety, main routes in and out. All this needs to be considered and added to the plan for that one venue, which may be part of a six venue day! With each venue being overlaid with the same blueprint from your experience, but with one or two things added and one or two things removed depending on the specifics.
By having a plan, you know what you expect to see and also what you don’t, what is alien to that environment, whether it be an individual, a vehicle or something that just doesn’t fit. Recognising these becomes second nature to an experienced Protection Officer. Within the plan are the contingency’s for such things, giving options should these things arise, in order for you to make the correct decision if required. A good Protection Officer has to be able to walk and talk at the same time and make dynamic decisions if and when necessary. These are important skills required if you are to be of any use to the Principal. The Principals expectations of you are high, as you are charged with making many consequential decisions on their behalf sometimes with consultation, sometimes not. The trust that is placed on your judgement is a foundation of the relationship. Protection is a thinking persons’ game and you must have plan, or two or three.
The final check will be undertaken by the Protection Officers in advance, who inevitably will also be dealing with the missing person from the line-up, the door that somebody’s now locked or the plaque that’s due to be unveiled being upside down, it’s all happened and more!Once all is in place, the Principal arrives and months and months of hard planning and preparation unfolds in front of you for the short time that you are there for. A perfect secure event has taken place for all concerned, the Principal, the hosts, the crowds and the worlds media. Security being paramount, yet allowing the Principal and event to be the main focus of the attention.As the only Team of former Royal Bodyguards operating in the private sector, we have a genuine and unique skill set, combined with an unrivalled level of experience from our time in the Police service. As security/protection in the UK is the prerogative and speciality of the Police Service and not the military as is commonly believed, we are best placed to assist clients either private or corporate with any security requirement. From consultancy all the way through to delivery on a short or long term basis, either here in the UK or globally.
Written by Simon Morgan who is the Director of Operations and Training for Trojan Consultancy, a London based Team of highly experienced security professionals, delivering security consultancy and provision to the more discerning client across the globe. Before undertaking this role, he was a Police trained Protection Officer with the Metropolitan Police Service, assigned to the prestigious Royalty Protection SO14(2), the only dedicated department in UK Policing responsible for the personal protection of Her Majesty the Queen and other senior members of the British Royal Family, in the UK and overseas. You can find out more about Trojan Consultancy at www.trojanconsultancy.co.uk