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Personal Safety- Elected Officials

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Personal Safety: Top Tips

As an elected official you will attend public events, private meetings, hold surgeries and be in the public eye. Whilst the chances of you or a member of your family becoming a victim of violent crime remains low personal safety is paramount, and here we highlight some key learning that aims to keep you safe. The more you do to protect yourself, the better protected you and your family will be.

On this page you will find information on the following:

  • Safe Surgeries
  • Security-Minded Communications
  • Dealing with Aggression
  • Threats and Risks
  • Further Helpful Resources

 Please note information has been taken from three main sources which we would recommend you read in full:

Whilst we cannot predict or control everything that might happen to us, there are some steps we might choose to take to mitigate and avoid risk. This checklist helps you to consider what to think about when setting up surgeries and engagement events:

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is the designated surgery room close to other staff areas?
  • Will there be other colleagues present in the building when I hold my surgery?
  • Are other colleagues aware that I am holding my surgery and do they know which room I am holding it in?
  • Do I need a colleague to support me at the meeting?
  • If not, have I informed them that I am starting or finishing my surgery?
  • Have I told my colleague how long the surgery should take, so that they can check on me if it takes longer?
  • Is there an incident log book? – providing a central place to accurately record incidents, not depending on anecdotal accounts which can be unreliable.
  • Have I checked the incident log book to see whether the visitor has previously attended and caused problems? – all types of unacceptable behaviour, including verbal abuse, should be documented, timed and signed.
  • Has the visitor previously displayed irrational behaviour or been aggressive or confrontational?
  • Is the visitor currently displaying irrational behaviour or signs of being upset, angry or aggressive?
  • Have I checked the room to make sure it is set up correctly with my chair nearest the door, so that I can get out quickly if I need to?
  • Is my escape route clear and how do I get out quickly and safely if I need to?
  • Have I removed any items that have been left lying around, that could be used as a weapon against me?
  • Is there sufficient room between myself and the visitor to respect personal space?
  • Is the room well lit?
  • How do I call for help if I need to?
  • Is there a phone in the room?
  • Do I need my mobile phone, is it charged and with signal?
  • Is there a password that I can discreetly use to inform my colleagues that I need their assistance?
  • Is there a panic button facility in the room?
  • If not, is a personal safety alarm available?
  • Am I sat at their level?
  • Am I using eye contact and open hand gestures to display a helpful attitude?

Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit

As Elected Officials you will both want and need to communicate your surgeries and forthcoming events. However, as well as providing important and useful information to the public, these details also provide information to individuals who may be planning a malicious act.

As not sharing this information may adversely affect your ability for the public to meet with you, this risk can be mitigated. For example, providing this information alongside information about what measures are in place or have been undertaken to help keep the public, elected officials, and staff safe and secure may act as a deterrent.

Also, offering more generic information such ‘Cllr X will be visiting local business to support Y’ rather than ‘Cllr X will be visiting Sam’s Hair Salon, E. Z. Bakes and The Village Florist to discuss Y’ will limit exact details of your schedule.

This protective security approach is known as ‘security-minded communications’ (SMC) which is a method used to inform, reassure and recruit the public to be part of the security effort by explaining what you are doing to help keep constituents safe, and encouraging them to be part of it by being vigilant and reporting anything unusual.

When it comes to resolving conflict there are five main outcomes that can be worked towards:

  • competing until one person wins the argument
  • collaborating to find a solution agreeable by all
  • compromising on a solution that meets halfway
  • withdrawing to avoid conflict
  • smoothing the situation although both parties still disagree

If you find yourself in a situation where conflict is present, you should consider the potential outcomes and decide on which solution would be most appropriate given your current circumstance.

(Peoplesafe: Conflict Resolution Tips)

For more information on dealing with aggressive individuals, you may wish to visit:

If, in spite of the precautions adopted, an attack has happened or is attempted, it is essential that:

  • Police are alerted immediately
  • You follow their advice/instruction
  • Maintain the integrity of the scene (do not touch or clean up anything)
  • No information is given other than to the police. In all other incidents where a police non-emergency response is required, dial 101

In an emergency, the advice is always call 999.

An emergency is described as:

  • A crime is in progress
  • Someone suspected of a crime is nearby
  • When there is danger to life

Please note these recommendations are taken from the Protect Yourself Guide Blue Book.pdf and whilst based on research, historic events, expert advice and best practice, it should also be recognised that these are primarily common-sense precautions, albeit not exhaustive, and will depend on individual circumstances.

If you feel more personalised advice would be beneficial you should contact your local police.

As a public figure you are encouraged to have a security mind-set and apply sensible precautions to maximise security both for your person and for your home. For example, consider thinking about your general routines and home security features, such as: house alarm, panic button, secure perimeter gates, safe and working door and window locks; security lights, possible CCTV, door intercom system and becoming a member of Neighbourhood Watch.

It is important to identify and recognise situations where you are most at risk, so you can avoid them, or if this is not possible – reduce them. Most people are relatively vulnerable when:

  • Arriving/leaving home or place of work (particularly if alone or in the dark)
  • Entering or leaving a vehicle
  • When regular journeys can be predicted (i.e. the same route, by the same method (bus/car), time and day)
  • Answering the door at home or at work (to unknown persons)
  • Working alone
  • Being distracted when using an electronic device in a public place
  • Unusual or new surroundings
  • Whilst travelling (home or abroad)
  • Interacting online
  • Attending crowded places (with strangers such as nightclubs and sporting events)

Being aware of these threats makes you more aware and responsive to the risk.

A Counter Terrorism awareness product designed to help people learn how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and understand what to do in the event of a major incident.

This guidance helps organisations to understand what constitutes good and bad employee vigilance security behaviour; and then demonstrates how to communicate it to the workforce. It provides the tools to run a ‘security-minded behaviour’ campaign, including links to professionally designed supporting materials.