23rd January 2018 / Security Services

Protection Driving in the Commercial Sector

The advent of Protection Drivers and associated  training in the UK came courtesy of the Metropolitan Police as one would expect they having the national portfolio for most Royal and Governmental Protection operations-built around the Specialist protection officer course – NPOC nationally. The course itself actually divided the operators into 2 camps the “protectors’ or ‘seat covers’  and the ‘JFD’s  Just ‘F ‘in Drivers!  The later were in many ways deemed as lesser mortals as they were solely responsible for mobile operations within the team – and of course all associated cleaning roles !

However the skills required to pass the ‘Lead and backup ‘ course as it became known were of such a high standard that  many failed and some of the drivers were amongst the best evasive drivers in the world .

The advent of the commercial need to move away from old school ‘chauffeur’ companies who at best had a former member of a county forces Traffic Department from the mid 90s who was ‘also a dog handler and a helicopter pilot ….’ as their lead driver but were mainly chauffeurs of varying and indeterminate skills who had a UK driving licence and had been ‘doing the job for 15 years’ untested and with no continuity training since first getting behind the wheel professionally- was a slow burn in the UK .

This led to security companies not heading the PCO and PHV requirements for 4/5 years until all out enforcement commenced in London specifically  and chauffeur companies claiming to have ‘advanced training’ and ‘security  training ‘ based on one river having attended a RoSPA course and another who went on the cheapest Close Protection course he could find.  All this meant a confused and poorly served client base.

The implementation of genuinely audited and accredited training packages aimed at the sector alongside the direct requests for qualified drivers based on the qualifications themselves meant the clients were able to see a standard- one US commentator observed that the UK market was 12 years behind continental Europe and 20 years behind the US in provision of dedicated Protection Drivers to HNW and Government supported clients.

Since 2015 there have been 5 main suppliers of certificated accreditation throughout the UK aimed at the ‘Soft skills’ arena – a further 5 at the Hostile 4×4 based sector- and the uptake of courses and training has seen a raising of both pay rates and demand to the graduates of those courses- if they are operating in the key areas of demand – London/Home Counties and the NW corridor.  The understanding that commercial drivers will never drive a manual car and that including experienced Chauffeurs onto the training teams alongside the former RaSP ( SO1 &SO14) RMP and RoSPA trainers brings the real world understanding to a course that can easily be a manual car based glorified stag weekend if not correctly managed.

Demand for correctly accredited Protection Drivers is set to sore in the years 2018/19 and female practitioners of which there are currently only 5 accredited are much in demand .

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