What is a Port Facility Security Officer?

U.S Embassy Issues Warning of Rising Street Crime in Barcelona

An upsurge of violent street crime is currently gripping the popular Spanish resort of Barcelona. A series of muggings, including the recent violent attack on a foreign diplomat has resulted in the United States embassy in Spain issuing a statement warning American nationals of the rise of violent crime in the city.

The statement highlights an increase of violent offences committed this summer in the city’s most popular tourist areas, including the forceful theft of jewellery, wallets and watches. In some cases, victims have sustained serious injuries. The embassy advises American visitors to remain alert in the busy tourist districts and advises individuals against flaunting any signs of wealth.  Individuals are also warned against putting up any form of resistance should they become the victim of an attack.

The statement from the embassy comes in the wake of string of violent street robberies including an attack where the Afghan ambassador in Spain, Humayoon Rasaw, was robbed in central Barcelona. Mr Rasaw suffered a leg injury in the attack after being knocked to the ground by a group of men who made off with his watch. On the same night, a 91 year old French woman suffered head injuries when thieves grabbed her necklace. Two days earlier a German tourist was taken to hospital after being mugged in the same area. In June this year, a South Korean woman who was visiting Barcelona as part of a government delegation died from a head injury after falling when a thief snatched her purse.

According to data from City Hall, Americans account for Barcelona’s biggest tourist contingent, followed closely by the British. However, other countries have expressed concerns for the safety of their nationals visiting the city.

The website of the French Consulate has a list of recommendations that include keeping an eye on valuables, watching out for pickpockets on public transport and being particularly careful in popular tourist areas such as Las Ramblas and the Gothic quarter. Japan has published a leaflet highlighting the Sagrada Familia basilica and the Park Güell as potential trouble spots. Japanese tourists have also been advised against carrying valuable items and to be wary of scams.

With a population of 1.6 million, over the past twelve months the city has attracted 16 million visitors. However, the city has long had an unwanted reputation for the gangs of pick-pockets and other petty criminals who have plagued Barcelona’s most visited tourist spots.

Conscious of the negative publicity and the adverse impact on the city’s vital tourist trade, leading figures have spoken out about the problem.  Barcelona city hall’s head of security, Albert Batlle, has described the current situation as “a crime crisis”.  Luis Sans, president of an association representing businesses on the Passeig de Gràcia, a major street running through central Barcelona stressed that “it’s time to admit the situation is out of control”.

With so much at stake, some are looking to point the finger of blame. Alberto Fernández of the conservative Popular Party (PP) has previously stated that 80% of the immigrant minors, who are predominantly from Morocco, “end up in criminal circles and undermine coexistence” in the communities where they reside.

Others are more broad-minded in their views. “This is a big, complex city and there are many factors at play,” said one spokesperson for the Catalan police, stressing that the force had increased its arrest rate in a bid to stem the rise in crime. “We don’t believe there is one cause behind all this.”

In response to criticism that Barcelona lacked officers on the streets, the Catalan regional government has agreed to deploy 300 extra police to the city. Official figures show that funding to fight crime increased by 16% in 2018 with an additional increase of 11% in this year’s budget.

Nevertheless, the upsurge in violent attacks in a city that relies so heavily on its vibrant tourist trade has become a major concern.  Barcelona’s head of security insists the problem should not be overly inflated claiming that “Barcelona is still a safe city in comparison with others, like Paris, London or Rome“. Regardless of opinion, Barcelona needs to address this problem fast before its image and vibrant tourist trade becomes even further tarnished.

Zero Tolerance – How Drugs and Yacht Crew can be a Lethal Combination

Recent incidents concerning superyacht crews and drug use has highlighted the dangers of not maintaining a rigid and stringent testing system, and a zero-tolerance policy for crew members who are found to have used drugs. This article for Yacht Investor magazine explains why yacht owners, managers and captain’s should take crew drugs testing more seriously.

To view the article in full: CLICK HERE

The Importance of Situational Awareness

Street crime is all around us and has sadly become a daily occurrence, particularly for those of us who live in a big city.  From sexual assault to violent robbery, street crime has almost been accepted as the norm.  In recent times, London has surpassed New York for the number of murders.  The UK’s capital has also been hit by an epidemic of knife crime, acid attacks and with around 60 moped crimes per day, London’s crime wave seems to be spiralling out of control.  With controversial cuts to policing and a reduction in police powers to stop and search, it appears that our streets are more dangerous than ever. 

To view the article in full: CLICK HERE

Drugs on Board

To many, the image of the superyacht industry is one of excessive opulence.  A number of recently publicised newspaper articles have exposed the lavish nature of some of the parties being held on board some yachts with revelations of drug taking and prostitution capturing the headlines.

The link with drug abuse and yachts has never exactly been too far away.  Some will associate this link with owners and guests.  However, we cannot ignore the crew.  Many fail to appreciate the hard work involved in working on board a superyacht so when there’s an opportunity for some down time, crew members will naturally want to let their hair down. This article written for The Islander magazine delves into the issue and how it can be dealt with.

To view the article in full: CLICK HERE

Superyacht Security Strengthened Thanks to Advanced Technology

Growing security pressures in the superyacht industry have been matched by tremendous advancements in security technology. Yachts are now full to the brim with the latest military-grade security gadgets. Drones present a great threat to owner privacy with their ability to fly over and capture personal footage, however integrated security systems can detect any drone in the vicinity of the yacht and find its source. A yacht’s computer systems can be hacked into and the yacht then controlled remotely by the hackers, but software can be installed to prevent this. Then, ultra-modern security sensors, CCTV, lighting, roller shutters, panic rooms can be fitted for additional protection. This article in Superyacht Technology magazine sheds some light on this…

To view the article in full: CLICK HERE

Seven Steps to Home Protection

The recent upsurge in crime throughout London has been a major cause of concern for most Londoners. Sadly, it now seems that crime has become accepted as part of our daily lives.  Even our homes don’t always offer us safe sanctuary any more. According to the website of the Metropolitan Police, there have been 85,369 burglaries within the past year throughout London alone.  Cuts to policing and admissions from senior police chiefs that burglaries have become a low response priority would make us believe that we’ve waved the white flag of surrender to the burglars.

 

However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for all of us.  Burglaries can be preventable and the application of a little common sense, a resolute outlook and a sensible financial outlay can be enough to deter the burglars and suitably protect your home.

 

Contrary to popular belief, most burglaries occur during daylight hours when most people are at work.  Burglars prowl the streets looking for easy targets so the first step is to limit the opportunity and make it tough for them. Below are some tips to help protect your home from unwanted intrusion.

 

  1. Walk around the outside of your home and check out its weaknesses.

This should be the first thing you do prior to reviewing your home security and survey your property with the eyes and mind set of a burglar.  If you observe that a door or a window could be forced open, a thief will also be able to come to the same conclusion.

 

Whilst checking for vulnerable spots, take note of any expensive electronics, art, or furniture that is easily visible through the windows. There’s no need to completely readjust the layout of your home to keep expensive valuables out of sight, it’s easy to make a few adjustments to minimise any temptation.

 

  1. Keep outer fences, gates, and garage doors locked.

 

Sounds obvious but carelessness is the burglars’ best friend.  As a minimum, invest in a quality padlock for each outside entrance and keep them locked at all times. It may be an inconvenience to keep locking and unlocking but it all adds to the protection of your home.  Also, never leave any doors open if you aren’t present or able to keep an eye on it.  A burglar can be inside your home via an unattended door in a matter of seconds.

 

  1. Keep all doors and windows closed and locked at all times.

 

Another seemingly obvious one but an open window or door is an invitation for burglars to easily enter your home.  Always keep them shut and securely locked whether you’re home or not. Don’t underestimate strong window locks, and update them if necessary.  Thieves know how to spot weak locks that could be easily forced open. Ensure that your exterior doors have deadbolt locks; a fully tested security door is a worthy investment. Sliding doors should have vertical bolts and a sturdy rod in the track to prevent being forced open or doors being lifted off the track. Never, ever leave your home without locking the front door, no matter how small your trip. Prior to leaving the house, always take that extra few seconds to ensure that everything is locked up.

 

  1. Install motion sensor lighting around your home.

 

Surprise and expose a potential intruder before he can even reach your doors or windows by adding additional lighting with motion detectors at entrances and especially dark corners of your home. When used correctly, security lighting is an extremely effective deterrent and should cover the full external perimeter of your home.

 

  1. Get to know your neighbours.

 

Your neighbours can be one of your best assets in home crime prevention because they can offer extra eyes and an outside perspective.  An assertive and tight-knit community can have a huge impact on crime reduction because neighbours are more likely to look out for each other and can easily spot a stranger.  In addition, if their work or school schedule differs to yours, they might be around during the day when you’re away and can respond to any suspicious activity that may occur in your absence.

 

  1. Consider buying a home security system.

 

There are numerous features with most modern security systems.  Some particularly valuable features are outdoor motion detectors, sensors at exterior doors, windows, security cameras and an outdoor audible alarm to alert other neighbours of an intrusion. Select the features that best fit your needs and be sure to go with a well-known, reputable company. Once it’s installed, familiarise yourself with it and make it a regular habit to use it.

 

It may seem inconvenient to have to arm the system every time you leave your home but many burglars are aware that this responsibility is often neglected. Reduce any false alarms by informing everyone with access to your property about the security system and ensure that they know how to use it.  Regular false alarms will annoy your neighbours and may induce expensive fines.  Moreover, you may get the boy-who-cried-wolf effect where your neighbours eventually learn to ignore your alarm every time it goes off.

 

  1. Reinforce windows with safety glass or metal bars.

 

This may seem an extreme step, but burglars will often break a small window to gain entry. Add an additional layer to your home security by installing safety glass or metal bars. There are plenty of decorative options for metal grilles that can make the adjustment both practical and aesthetically-pleasing.  If this is unfeasible, you can purchase a film in most DIY stores to stick over the glass to make it harder to break.  Fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and those upstairs that are easy to reach.  Home security and DIY shops sell inexpensive, key-operated locks to fit most kinds of windows.

 

 

Specialist security guard on watch looking out to sea

Working in Superyacht Security – Top Tips

For most close protection specialists, working on board a luxury yacht is one of the high points of their career. There are few roles that are as prestigious as working on board a superyacht, with all the surrounding opulence and grandiose extravagance, while cruising around some of the world’s most glamorous spots.  Most would agree that working on board a superyacht is undoubtedly one of the most desirable positions in the security industry.

However, as highly prestigious as this type of work may appear initially, the potential for messing up and subsequently losing your job (and reputation) can be high.  Each luxury yacht is different, as are its owners, but whether on an anti-piracy task or providing close protection to the owners or guests, being forewarned is forearmed, and some advance preparation and knowledge is advisable. Here are a few basic tips to help make sure you’re well prepared for that coveted role.

To view the article in full: CLICK HERE

Home & Yacht Security – Some Basic Principles

Summer is once again upon us and a large number of superyachts make their annual return to the Mediterranean.  The warm weather and the relaxed lifestyle naturally puts people at ease however the summer season typically sees an increase in the number of burglaries.  In this article for Yacht Investor magazine, we discuss some basic methods of how to improve the overall security of your yacht and home.

To view the article in full. CLICK HERE: