Tag Archives: uk female bodyguards

Are you ready and trained to deal with a ‘’crisis situation’’ as a close protection agent? Erdogan’s case

We have been always supporting the need of a continuum training, qualification and re-evaluation for people who work in security industry. The kind of our profession requires operatives who can perform perfectly in situations that requires hard physical activities,  being trained in various disciplines, have a lot of knowledge when it comes to security measures and also very important have a sharp mind and be able to take actions and react fast in a crisis situation. It is we who are required to act calmly and in cold blood when others (civilians) are under panic.

This time I would like to bring in our attention an incident that took part in Turkey four years ago. I had recently the chance to attend a meeting and catch up with some old colleagues, and in our coffee break we start discussing the incident with Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an incident with too many mistakes following each other by his Close Protection Operatives. It was this security failure which was the reason that leads to major changes of security details in Turkey.

According to sources, Mr Erdogan a few minutes after leaving Turkish Parliament and entering his vehicle start feeling not well and lost consciousness. His chauffeur and his close protection agent, panicked. And from that moment a series of mistakes following each other started.

Both of them, chauffeur and close protection agent, had no clue or training in First Aid. When they saw their client in the back of the car passed out, they speeded the car to get to the hospital that was at the other part of the town, when they could turn back and seek help at the Parliament Health Center which was way too close to them.

While speeding up for the hospital, for some reason they managed to ‘’loose themselves’’ from the rest of security convoy and got all alone racing the streets.

When they finally arrived at the hospital, both driver and close protection agent got off the vehicle at same time, and found themselves in an embarrassing situation and put their client in a very dangerous one for his life,  according the Hurriyet press (http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/5285052.asp?gid=74) ‘’ Erdogan’s chauffeur, flung himself in a panic from the Mercedes Tuesday morning in front of Ankara’s Guven Hospital, inadvertently leaving the keys to the car in the ignition, which meant the locks on none of the doors, which had shut automatically, could be opened. It took security detail members 10 minutes to break open the window of the armoured Mercedes, valuable time, say doctors, who note that had Erdogan experienced any health problems more serious than a hypoglycemic faint, he could have died during that period.’’

Although, the specific incident could only work as an advertising aid for Mercedes armored cars, and how difficult is to break their windows, for sure brought Mr Erdogan in a dangerous life situation and his security team in a more embarrassing one. From that incident, the changes in Erdogan’s security detail that took place is that a doctor will accompany the Prime Minister on both domestic and international trips. An ambulance will also be included as a part of Erdogan’s normal convoy. And last but very important all security Ankara officials agree that chauffeurs driving the official vehicles used by the Prime Minister must go through special “crisis situation” training.

A real life incident and facts that anyone of us may be called to deal with, so make sure you are prepared and trained accordingly to respond in a professional and effective manner.

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder



Maintain good communication and cooperation within your work area

During our career in security industry we will have to work along with people who don’t share the same work beliefs, qualifications, training and experience background with us. So even when we ‘like or dislike’ someone we shouldn’t never allow it to affect our professionalism and make us loose our target, which is client’s safety. If the client is safe then we and our team are safe too.

As we all know Close Protection is a profession that doesn’t have unfortunately until today, professional standards requirements. Each country, even each state has its own licensing requirements and in many times no training is required at all. So with this said, you can realize that you have to work and lock as a team with people who bring with them different experience, skills, training disciplines, standards, professionalism, culture, and ethics.

It is very important each one in the team to promote and maintain good communication and work cooperation with each other, the client, and of course other people who we may be in contact with (house personnel, office staff etc).

Some of the people you are working with may have more skills than you or less, may be younger or elder, so in each situation you must address your inquires to them with respect. Never offend anyone no matter the reason, never correct someone while there is anyone else in present. If you believe he did a mistake because of lack of experience or training you can ask if he/she will like you to give them some tips or advices. Not many people are open to get advices by others. If they refuse, respect it and leave it as it is.

In our work it is very important when an issue occurs instead of loosing time to find out why and how happened or whose fault is, to take immediate action and fix it. Later you can do your research within the team members and find out what happened, why and who is holding the responsibility for it. Finding who did the mistake is not for the reason to be put in the light spot and be blamed, but, inform, correct it and prevent any other similar issues in the future.

Have in mind if you are not the team leader or the supervisor then it is not your responsibility to call and talk with the person who acted unprofessionally or did a mistake. You can inform your supervisor or team leader about the fact of the incident, make sure you leave out ANY PERSONAL CHARACTERIZATIONS for your colleague who did wrong.

The main focus should be how you can operate as an individual within a team but also as a team member who its main target is clients and teams safety.

It is sad but very true and we see it almost every day in online networks or forums, people who hide behind a pc screen and a ‘’nickname’’ accuse colleagues or talk bad about them. First not professional at all, second it is not fair to accuse someone whose identity you have make sure is open and yours remain hidden and most important not able to be verified (your skills, experience, professional stand).

Personally I consider security industry forums, mostly as places for people who like to behave like crying babies, have plenty of free time (cause they are not working) and fill their lives with blaming others. Yes, definitely there are un-professionals and there are professionals as well, but a forum is not the right place to show who is who.

Be careful when you come to juxtaposition with others online, no matter the information or names they are using in networking places still you don’t know with whom you are talking with. Try to avoid those kinds of situations, and if not always try to be polite and not lose your temper. When someone is attacking you online have only one motivation, to break your inner self. Either is an ex colleague, a competitor or someone who want to fill his empty life with causing harm to those who are successful, always try not to feed them by reacting or responding to defend yourself. You, your colleagues and your clients knows who you are.


Closing one of my favorite sayings: IF YOU CANT CREATE IT, RESPECT IT


Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder


What Experienced Security Professionals are saying about women only courses

“ESI has been in the business of training Protection Specialists for 31 years. Fewer than one percent of our graduates are female agents. The ones that make it are very special women most of whom have extensive experience in the military, police or martial arts. I believe that there are many more competent women who could develop a professional career in personal protection , if the training environment was more conducive to learning free of bias.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted that prove females learn faster and retain more in the absence of males. While it is not true for all females, anecdotal experience confirms that most women absorb training principles better when not surrounded and judged by Alpha Male Types.”

Bob Duggan, President
Executive Security International


Video of Female Bodyguard

Go here http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=6264286 to see Good Morning America special piece on female bodyguards.  This piece is based around UK female bodyguard / close protection agent Jacquie Davis.

Growing demand for female bodyguards in Britain


Jacquie Davis (left) and Helen Cliffe, bodyguards and neighbours   

Jacquie Davis (left) and Helen Cliffe, bodyguards and neighbours Photo: DAN BURN-FORTI

Sitting in a restaurant courtyard in the pretty commuter town of Hertford, Jacquie Davis and Helen Cliffe look like a pair of elegantly dressed, lunching ladies. You’d imagine they were out to enjoy a bit of sunshine before perhaps going for a manicure and picking up the children from school. The reality, however, is very different.

‘We’re worked off our feet at the moment so it’s lovely to have a day off to stock up on cat food,’ says Davis, a smiling woman in a smart white blouse. ‘Between April and November is our busiest time of year, what we call “the season”, when all the rich Arab families come over. Luckily we have a lot of private clients at the moment. What I hate is when you get a member of the royal family. It’s the same thing every year: you have to be vetted by a guy from the Saudi embassy saying, “Oh, my God, you are a woman!” At which point you have to throw one of his blokes on the floor and stamp on his windpipe to prove you can do the job.’

Davis and Cliffe are bodyguards. Over the years they have protected a huge variety of clients, from the Saudi royal family, to Benazir Bhutto, to Liza Minnelli, to J K Rowling. Both aged 48, they are doyennes in an overwhelmingly male field. There are estimated to be about 2,000 bodyguards in Britain, of whom only about 30 are women.

Yet demand is growing all the time. Prince William and Kate Middleton have been seen with a female bodyguard, and study any photograph of a rock star leaving a restaurant, or an oligarch arriving at his football stadium, and the neatly dressed woman in the background you assume is a secretary or mistress is, in fact, far more likely to have a black belt in karate and be scanning the crowds for potential assassins.

Earlier this year the role of the female bodyguard was highlighted when Anna Loginova, a 29-year-old Russian who protected billionaire clients in Moscow, was killed when her own vehicle was carjacked. Loginova had just posed for a men’s magazine in a bikini to demonstrate her belief that a girl ‘should be a girl, not a Terminator’.

‘The stereotype of a bodyguard as a huge man in a suit, wearing an earpiece and dark glasses, is totally inaccurate these days,’ says Laura Webb, a 34-year-old who looks like Meg Ryan’s younger sister, but who, in fact, runs an agency, Global Protection, that specialises in female bodyguards. ‘Most male and female bodyguards have the same skills, but what a female has – which more and more clients require – is an ability to blend in. If you’re working with children, for example, a female can take them to the park or pick them up from school and no one’s sure if she’s the nanny or the mother, whereas a man – however fantastic he may be – will always stand out. We can sit in a restaurant and look as if we belong there, or go shopping with a client. People think we’re a friend, not a heavy. It’s much more discreet.’

Then there is the question of propriety. Arab clients, for example, are often unhappy with the idea of another man being in such proximity to their wives or daughters. Tales of clients who have become unusually close to their bodyguards are legion – Princesses Stephanie of Monaco had relationships with her minder, and Diana, Princess of Wales was rumoured to be inappropriately close to one of hers, Barry Mannakee. ‘Obviously a husband doesn’t have to worry about his wife getting too close to a female bodyguard,’ Webb says.

Few women, of course, will have the traditional bodyguard’s build. Yet, according to Webb, this is unimportant. ‘Bodyguarding is far more about brain than brawn. Most of the job is about assessing risks and minimising them. Much of my time is spent on the computer planning how to keep my clients safe, looking into their travel arrangements, understanding the politics of a country we might be visiting, pinpointing where any threat might be coming from.’

Until recently ‘the Circuit’, as the bodyguarding world calls itself, was an insular industry where virtually everybody was ex-Army or ex-police. But the field has been ostensibly more open since 2003, when the Government set up the Security Industry Authority, which licenses bodyguards who have passed an exam and completed a course, offered by dozens of security firms, in surveillance, firearms drill and defensive and evasive driving (for example, spinning a car 180 degrees to block a suspect vehicle when travelling in convoy).

While not denying the importance of these skills, old hands are sceptical about the value of a bodyguarding ‘certificate’. ‘It’s great that the industry is a bit more open now but a paper CV, however good, counts for nothing,’ confirms Webb, who started her career working in venue security. ‘This job’s always been about word-of-mouth recommendations.’

Nor is bodyguarding a career to embark on straight out of school. ‘You need to be at least 25, because the biggest thing about our job is being a diplomat,’ Davis says, inhaling on one of many Mayfair cigarettes (‘That’s the bodyguard’s diet: nicotine and caffeine’). ‘You have to have learnt how to deal with people and, at 21, you’re too scared to be pushy. I have bullshitted my way into, out of and around so many situations.’

Most candidates are attracted to bodyguarding by the money, with day rates starting at about £300, and rising to as much as £1,000 for the highly experienced. There can also be a huge amount of glamour. ‘Not in a James Bond sort of way,’ Cliffe warns. ‘But we do spend our lives flying all over the world first class and we stay with our clients in five-star hotels and accompany them to fabulous restaurants.’

Yet often the work is decidedly tedious. ‘I laugh when I see a young bodyguard all excited because he’s off to Dubai for the first time,’ Davis says. ‘I wonder if he’ll be so excited when he’s had 100 arguments with the immigration department and paid all the money [for bringing in their own alcohol]. After a while, every city looks the same.’

Then there’s the danger. During her 28 years on the Circuit, Davis has been stabbed in the leg, thrown through a shop window and shot at by Kashmiri snipers. ‘Ultimately, you have to be prepared to take a bullet, especially in this country where you’re not allowed to carry a hand gun,’ she says. ‘I’m nearly 50 and I am shocked that I’m still alive. I was shocked at 30 and I was shocked at 40. I keep saying it’s time to wind down, but I miss doing my job too much. I need the adrenalin.’

What happens in countries where it is legal to carry firearms? ‘Depending on the level of threat, we’ll carry a gun if we’re allowed to do so,’ says Davis. ‘Local contacts can provide us with firearms as and when necessary. Some countries allow a gun on a plane if you’re escorting a politician, some don’t. It all depends.’

Davis’s career began in the Metropolitan Police but, to earn more cash, she began moonlighting, protecting Saudi families in her spare time. In 1980 she took up bodyguarding full-time. Since then she has worked all over the world, mainly with Arab clients but increasingly with Russians and Chinese.

Understandably, she is reluctant to divulge too many details but it’s impossible for her to hide all her irritations. ‘It’s very frustrating working with people who have no understanding of the value of money, who think they can buy anything. There was one 10-year-old Middle Eastern princess I had to take round London. She asked: “Can you go and get me a kitten, a puppy, a baby to play with, and a tiger?” I said I couldn’t get a baby and all hell broke loose. So someone else found one for her. I think she picked it up once. She never got the tiger.’

There have also been several household names. ‘But I’m not really keen on celebrities because so many of them refuse to listen to you. They employ you for your expertise but then they won’t hear it. We turned down Britney Spears recently and then I switched on the TV and saw her in Leicester Square with some man mountain who left her to have a go at a photographer, leaving her unprotected. It was all wrong, but then she wouldn’t have done as she was told with us. That’s why I loved Jo [J K] Rowling. She did what she was told. That’s where it went wrong for Benazir Bhutto. The only person who died in that car was her and that’s because she stuck her head through the sunroof, which her team would have told her not to do. But she was an obstinate cow. I know that from personal experience.’

Cliffe, originally from Manchester, has a military background but has been bodyguarding for nearly 20 years, often in tandem with Davis, including four years on and off protecting the aforementioned Rowling, mainly in America. Of the pair, Davis is the more charming and articulate, while Cliffe is more reserved and intimidating. ‘Occasionally, I have been called the pitbull,’ Cliffe says. ‘And they label the pair of us the two middle-aged witches. Everyone thinks we’re a lesbian married couple but we’re not gay.’

‘There are lesbians on the Circuit but we just don’t happen to be that way,’ Davis adds. ‘Yet everyone assumes it, just like they assume you’ll look like a Russian shotputter.’

Davis had one early disastrous marriage and was unable to have children after a hysterectomy at 23 for ovarian cysts. Cliffe is the single mother of a 10-year-old, Michael. How does she reconcile motherhood with her long absences and unpredictable schedule?

‘A bit of juggling,’ she says. ‘I’m not your typical earth mother or your – what-you-may-call-it – yummy mummy; I don’t do all that. Michael has to fit in with my routine. He doesn’t know anything else. He didn’t like Harry Potter because it took his mummy away. But he got over it. Eventually.’ Friends and family help with babysitting. ‘It’s far more stressful than being shot at, sorting out the childcare.’

Laura Webb agrees that bodyguarding is about the most ‘female unfriendly’ profession imaginable. ‘You have to have the ability to go anywhere at the last minute, to live life on fast-forward, and it really is quite difficult to maintain a family.’ She and her husband, also a bodyguard, have made the decision not to have children. ‘We’ve decided this is what we prefer to do.

She adds that her marriage works because her husband appreciates the demands of her career. ‘He understands that even if I’m exhausted and have been working an 18-hour day seven days a week for months I still can’t go home until the client says so.’

Cliffe and Davis have succeeded largely thanks to the support they have given each other. ‘I look after Michael sometimes, and if I’m away for weeks Helen feeds my cat and waters my garden for me,’ Davis says. They live just a few doors away from each other in a smart part of Hertford. Since their arrival the local Neighbourhood Watch has become somewhat redundant. ‘There were a few problems with teenagers walking around,’ Davis says. ‘We went out and told them their future. And now there are no problems,’ Cliffe says grimly.

She’s interrupted by her phone ringing. After a long conversation she hangs up, looking satisfied. ‘That was the beautician. I went for a facial yesterday and came out in a terrible rash. But they can’t do enough to put it right.’ I bet they can’t. Because fun as Cliffe can be, you really wouldn’t like her when she was angry. Which, I imagine, is what makes her an excellent bodyguard.

jacquiedavis.com ; Global Protection Group, 0870 486 8580