The October 2016 Kim Kardashian robbery in Paris did make a number of VIPs review their personal security.
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Celebrities are exposed to threats every day, from stalkers and over exuberant fans, but are celebrities taking their security seriously or only being reactive?
Bodyguard services are not all about some big guy or girl in a suit, those times have changed – an intelligent approach is required…”
— Alex Bomberg
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, September 28, 2018 — There are several examples in the world’s Press of celebrities facing security incidents, some of these are more serious than others but all could have been avoided or risk diminished greatly if the celebrity had adequate security.
Celebrity stalking is on the rise with much of it manifesting itself on social media before in extreme cases, becoming physical.
Security breaches happen often because of a serious lapse in security, obviously due to several factors that may include budgetary restraints or plain bad practice, as in the 2016 Kim Kardashian robbery in Paris, as described below.
We should start by saying that many security incidents are not perpetrated by unknown individuals, often the perpetrators have attempted to communicate via social media, this is often the case where stalking becomes more sinister and often drifts from online fixation to physical contact.
Examples of Celebrities having security issues:
Justin Bieber – The international recording artist Justin Bieber has faced a number of well-publicized security issues over the years, particularly in 2012 when there was a credible threat to kidnap, castrate and murder the star. An inmate plotted with his nephew to carry out the act and the plot unraveled by chance due to a Police traffic stop near the Canadian border.
Further issues with fans and stalkers have plagued Bieber over the years. One fan was arrested after gaining access to the star’s property three times in one week.
It is fair to say that Justin Bieber does have a security team around him that is effective.
Kim Kardashian – In Paris in 2016, the star was famously robbed in her rented apartment and relieved of millions of dollars worth of jewelry. It is very clear that in this case, not only was Kim Kardashian’s security totally inadequate – being one individual who was not suited; but that the actions of the bodyguard, Kim Kardashian and those around her, added to the security risks with their use of social media.
Jenson Button – The British F1 racing star has on two separate occasions been the subject of security incidents. In 2010 in Brazil, he came close to being the victim of an armed group during an encounter at a set of traffic lights. More recently in 2015, the star and his family were gassed in their sleep and robbed when in a property in the South of France.
In any of the three examples the outcome could have been very different and fatal.
Is it a case of the more security the better?
It’s a great question and the short and fast answer is that any security service or Executive Protection needs to be tailored to the requirements of the client and fit his or her life and of course their family’s lives. Just throwing money or resources at the issue is not going to mitigate the risk and can in many cases make matters worse and draw unnecessary attention.
Executive Protection, by nature, is somewhat intrusive and if done right the service has many elements, from counter surveillance, technical surveillance counter measures and advanced reconnaissance, through to vetting of staff, managing online reputation and cyber-threats.
The first thing on most clients’ minds is not budget, but that is always obviously a consideration. The main concern is how much a major change in security will affect their lives. Most clients will not be starting from scratch, most will have either some regular personal security, or had some exposure to using it over time as their careers have taken off.
It is not unusual for a celebrity to use a bodyguard for a personal appearance at a shopping mall for example, and that would be their only use of security for that day. They might then not use personal security until their next personal appearance. It too is not uncommon for a celebrity to use a bodyguard/driver, this from a professional security point of view, is far from ideal as driving and Executive Protection are two different disciplines and it is not possible to carry out both the role of personal bodyguard & drive a vehicle.
Not all celebrities can afford full-time Executive Protection but opt for an “as and when” approach and again, this is very dangerous.
Are the celebrities at fault?
No, not entirely. A celebrity/artist is surrounded by managers, record labels and a whole myriad of advisors, financial advisors, personal trainers and nutritionists, PR people and so on. Security is very often not managed properly, or as we have covered in a previous article “Celebrity Stalking Cases”, their security arrangements do not grow with the celebrity and adapt to new risks, or are they scalable to events and threats.
So, how would you make a start to putting things right?
The very first thing any security consultant worth his or her salt would do is to carry out a security audit of the existing security. This would cover the home, the office, travel security, drivers and any technical security like cameras and alarms that might be in place. The audit would also look at any policies that might be in place, like what happens on an activation of a panic alarm or sensor etc…
A security audit ensures that all security is “fit for purpose”, all systems, training and qualifications, policies and procedures are up-to-date. All security, technical and physical, must work in unison.
The biggest problem with not doing a regular audit or review of security is that it can easily end up not fit for purpose, not working together and cohesive. This type of security service just costs money and adds no value.
Finally, I would say that getting security on the agenda regularly is never a bad idea. Talk about security, make sure that everyone who needs to know plans and policies has a good grasp of what will happen if the threat level rises or if there is an incident.
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