Blue Mountain Group’s new Director of Training, Steve Cook (seen here on the right – previously of TYR Solutions Ltd.), recently attended the PREVENTION AND SAFETY TO OPERATE IN CRISIS AREAS IN INDUSTRY AND MEDIA SECTOR event at the Universitas Mercatorum in Rome, Italy.
The event aimed to compare models, strategies and specific cases: problems, solutions and perspectives.
This first international conference was aimed at discussing the different models of prevention and safety in international fields and proposing new operating models that allow industry and communication operators to carry out their job safely.
Speaking about the Hostile Environment First Aid Training (HEFAT®) Blue Mountain Group can provide, Steve advised how any environment can become hostile, with the extended threat of terrorists – such as in Germany, France and Turkey recently. He highlighted how we all have a Duty of Care to our staff and colleagues to ensure we assess the threat, risk and mitigation process.
With a British military and Police background Steve has recently been working in Mosul with CNN and trains journalists in the UK, Armenia and many other countries. He is skilled project manager and has established news bureaus for the TV networks in environmental disaster and conflict zones.
He has a formidable depth of experience, working in countries with harsh climatic conditions, environmental disaster and regions of conflict. He is culturally aware and an accomplished and competent negotiator and fixer.
Steve trains and has advised governments, media and corporate organisations in risk mitigation, personal safety and hostage situations.
He also holds Television Production Safety Passport, BBC’s Safe Management of productions qualification and is a member of the Chartered Institute of journalists and a registered NHS first responder.
For enquiries about how Blue Mountain Group may be able to help train you and your staff please give us a call on 01267 241907 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue Mountain continues to run the industry popular Centurion HEFAT© course at its training location near Ascot. Delegates are taught all the essential skills required to work in hostile regions
“Great course – superb instruction, should be mandatory for all media staff deploying to Hostile Environments” CBS News
Congratulations to all 8 candidates from our latest 18 day course who all passed and are now beginning their SIA registration and licencing process
Blue Mountain have been working hard over the last two months to make the acquisition of Centurion RAS as seamless and painless as possible for all concerned, especially the clients. We are very pleased to say that it has gone extremely well. The Centurion team have adapted and fitted into the Blue Mountain ethos and continue with enthusiasm and professionalism to inform, educate and inspire those attending our HEFAT® courses.
We’re in demand! Or rather our Group CEO is – Nigel Thomas. Nigel has a full schedule in June and July, as he travels the UK and abroad sharing his experience in and passion for the Specialist Security Industry through his knowledge of business processes, personal motivation, team dynamics, strategic planning and communication.
Nigel has built quite a following in the public speaking arena, as large corporates, financial institutions and professional organisations, including EPIC and the Freemasons, turn to him for guidance and inspiration. In July Nigel travels to Japan to present to various businesses and NGOs. In October he will be presenting to National and International PAs in London.
Nigel has a wealth of knowledge and anecdotes to share, gained through many years of Special Forces experience and many more years in commercial environments. If you have an event, a training course or team-building occasion and are looking for inspiration and guidance give us a call to discuss what Nigel may be able to offer. Contact Zoe Woodruff on 01267 241907 or email email@example.com
As the SIA transition to their new system they are not accepting new licence applications and renewals until midnight on Tuesday 5 July.
They will introduce a new licensing system on Wednesday 6 July 2016.
What does this mean for you?
Where can you find information about this change?
For more information please visit the SIA website
The SIA have developed a series of videos which will guide you through their new process.
You can also keep up to date with developments by joining the SIA on Facebook (Security Industry Authority) or Twitter (@SIAuk), or by signing up to receive more information here www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sign-up.
|Go to Changes to Licensing|
DID YOU PASS FIRST TIME?
We all remember the day – our first driving test! So much pressure to get it right – and typically, with very little experience at a tender age. Shockingly, it is now claimed that only 21% of driving tests currently result in a ‘first time’ pass.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) the biggest shake-up of the driving test in a generation is being considered as part of a wide-ranging review of motoring services in Great Britain.
The Department of Transport is consulting on a number of changes, including a cash-back incentive scheme in the form of a deposit, which is returned to the driver if they pass first time.
Blue Mountain has been offering Advanced Driver Training for over 15 years – these skills are essential to the high level of service and professionalism demanded by today’s market. In partnership with RoSPA – who are responsible for awarding the highest civilian qualification of its kind obtainable in Europe – we train our delegates to an exceptional level of competence.
Blue Mountain Group offer Security Chauffeur, Evasive & Defensive Driver training and more – get in touch with Zoe to discuss your requirements:
01267 241907 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Another Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Team recently completed Blue Mountain Group’s BTEC Level 4 Hostile Environment Operations training course in South Wales.
The 5-day training package included survival techniques, which will assist them when they are voluntarily deployed to hostile locations around the world to erect mobile Vodafone telecommunication systems.
The highlight of the course, for most participants, was the inclusion of many practical exercises, including Kidnap & Ransom awareness training, first aid, navigation and so much, more.
If your organisation would like to receive similar invaluable training, then please contact us. We can tailor the training to suit your specific requirements.
April has been an extremely busy month for us on the training front. We welcomed candidates from as far afield as the Netherlands and Brazil to complete our BTEC Level 3 Combined 18-day Close Protection with FPOS (I) training course.
Full to capacity once again, demand for this course is exceptionally high, which we suspect has got something to do with the ‘added extras’ we insist on delivering. In addition to the core SIA content, we believe we have a duty of care to broaden the training content – allowing all candidates to experience ‘live’ scenarios, which prepares them for a successful career in Close Protection roles Worldwide.
Our ‘extras’ include live VIP exercises, evasive and defensive driving with anti-ambush drills and kidnap & ransom awareness training as well as conflict management, surveillance, route planning and all other aspects of Executive Close Protection training.
During May we also provided Hostile Surveillance and Conflict Management training to the staff of an exclusive establishment in London. The knowledge imparted should ensure all staff and visitors are further protected from any potential threats.
We’d be delighted to discuss your training needs, in confidence – simply call Zoe or Rich or send us an email. No obligation, no pressure – just sound, professional advice.
Inviting all past course candidates, operatives or clients interested in a great BM team day out. Please get in touch – call 01267 241907 or email email@example.com
Machynys Golf Club is a Nicklaus designed 7121 yard modern links championship golf course and has already hosted an unprecedented 8 championships, including 2 Royal & Ancient Championships and 4 Ryder Cup Wales LET Championships of Europe.
Machynys is the youngest course ever to be awarded an R&A championship. But, whilst Machynys represents a true test for the lower handicapper it is still a thoroughly enjoyable course for the higher handicapper.
Candidates from both an overseas embassy and a large financial institution based in the City of London recently completed Evasive and Defensive Driver training with additional Emergency First Aid at Work qualification.
Candidates received bespoke driver training from ex-police instructors and assessors in and around London.
The evasive driver training took place in Worcestershire where they were taught J-turns, Y-turns, reversing techniques and much, much more; culminating in a final hostile practical exercise.
Emergency First Aid with AED training was delivered by a BM registered Paramedic instructor at the client’s chosen location; preparing candidates to be able to react appropriately in an emergency, should they ever need to.
If you, or your organisation, would like us to quote and arrange a similar bespoke course please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01267 241907.
We are here to help – “Always a little further”.
Last week – 11-17 January 2016
Taken from www.krmagazine.com
Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues and contact us with any comments or corrections via email: email@example.com
KR Magazine asked a series of experts in the sector the same five questions –
If you would like to share your thoughts, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please tell them your name, organisation and any links you would like us to include such as your website, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Here is what the experts think.
Happy New Year – The New Year has started with another successful action packed evasive driver training course for Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Ltd., held at Blue Mountain Group’s training location in Worcestershire. Instruction in security awareness, ramming, J-turns, Y-turns and anti-ambush drills, to name but a few, will have enabled the team to improve their evasive and defensive driving skills, should they ever need them whilst travelling the world on their quest to retain the F1 world champions crown.
Mercedes AMG Driver Training January 2016
“Made you think and realise the importance of situational awareness”
“Excellent – enthusiastic and friendly instructors”
“Slalom was good for concentration”
“Provided invaluable experience to take on many scenarios I otherwise might not have responded to”
“Lessons learnt from this training were invaluable, not only as an individual, but also as a team. Spatial awareness, security awareness and avoidance are key factors in staying safe and out of trouble”
Thank you to everyone involved.
Why not organise a similar experience for your team please give us a call on:
+44 (0)1267 241907 or email email@example.com
Additional feedback can be found on the Testimonials page of our website.
The Blue Mountain Group Team would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year. We look forward to working with you in 2016 in either a training or security related capacity.
Already our April Combined 18 day Close Protection with FPOS (I) courses are filling up; with only 3 spaces remaining for those who wish to train with our highly skilled and experienced team.
One of the candidate’s from our last 18 day Close Protection course, who had already worked on a task for us on immediate completion of the course, today informed us how he has now been offered a full-time position in one of the leading African based security companies. The next successful candidate could be you. Beat the rest and become the best!
If you need our assistance with any security, surveillance or training related matters please call us on 01267 241907.
We would like to thank all our Customers, Operatives, Instructors, Suppliers and anyone-else who has supported Blue Mountain Group throughout 2015 to make it another successful year. Without your support we could not succeed. Much appreciated.
Looking forward to 2016.
Happy New Year.
From all the Blue Mountain Group Team.
Barnardo’s are offering free training for those working in the night time economy to help keep young people safe from exploitation.
The course is called ‘Empowering the Night Time Economy to Recognise & Respond to Child Sexual Exploitation’. It is three hours long and can be tailored to suit audience requirements.
The training content will cover:
Any organisation interested in developing their staff’s knowledge of this government priority area should email Katie Bunting, Barnardo’s National Programme Manager at
Speak to your employer about being able to get this free training once you have your SIA licence.
This week – 14-20 December 2015
Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues and contact us with any comments or corrections via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The growing threat of cyber crime has significant consequences for businesses and there is a need for experts in this field as police resources are limited.
Perpetuity Research are conducting a survey as part of the Security Research Initiative.
The survey seeks to understand:
If you work in the security sector (whether a supplier, a corporate security manager / stakeholder, an operative or other expert) they are interested in hearing from you. The survey is anonymous, takes approx 10 minutes to complete and the findings will be made available to participants. The deadline for responses is 2 February 2016.
|Go to the survey|
Enhanced DBS checks have to be reviewed by local police forces. Some applications going to the Met are taking much longer than the DBS 60 day escalation target, with some taking up to 120 days before they start to process.
These delays may have a knock-on effect on SIA licence applications so please be advised to get your application in as soon as you receive notification that your certificates have been issued.
Read more about DBS checks and the ensuing delays here:
“Congratulations, you’ve been hired!”
While there’s nothing more exciting than taking on a new role in a new company, there are sure to be surprises and many ups and downs as you settle into the job and build your career. Here is some advice as you navigate those early months.
A new job is a fresh start. Remember when you first left home you got to redefine yourself and how people see you? This is another opportunity to bring out a new dimension of who you are. Always strive to bring forth your best. And remember, a job is not just about you. You are joining a company that expects you to be part of a team — doing your best also means working well with others.
To that end, absorb everything and listen. In the early days you have to be a keen observer; like an anthropologist observing a new culture. Every company has its rituals and methods of doing things. Observe the rhythm and make note of important operating processes. For example, the close of the quarter is always a busy time for sales and finance — probably not a good time to pitch a new long-term idea.
Even as you strive to fit in and adapt to the company’s needs, remember that you don’t have to give up your identity in the process. Early on, find a way to express your individuality. Maybe it is how you prepare for reports or meetings, what you bring to decorate your desk, or how you ask questions. Remember that your company hired you because your background, skill set, and personality filled a specific need they had — it would be a real shame to suppress the exact things that make you unique once you get your ID card.
Ask good questions. In fact, ask any question. You will never learn unless you ask how to do something or what’s expected of you. I find it’s often helpful in the early days of a project to summarize what the assignment is and ask the project or team leader if you have understood correctly.
At the same time, you can only use the fact that you’re new as an excuse for so long. Give yourself three months of being the new kid and six months to feel like you’ve got your groove going. That’s not to say that you should ever stop asking questions — it’s just that at some point, you have to demonstrate that you’ve grasped the basics.
Make your boss look good. Make your team look good. You may not have chosen to work with either, but your job is to deliver success, and no one can do that alone. I often hear people say, “But the boss (or teammate) took my idea and never gave me credit.” You would be wise not to dwell on such things. In most well-functioning teams, it becomes clear over time who the good contributors are and what separates the rock stars from the groupies. If you feel as though you’re not getting enough credit for your contributions, find time to meet regularly with your boss to summarize what you have done and get feedback on your performance.
And speaking of teams: Don’t get derailed by the company “magpies.” They’re the ones who love to share tales of misery and woe. You need to work with them, but you don’t need to be like them. These folks like nothing more than to lure newbies into their circle. But dwelling on the negative will only make you miserable, and it won’t do anything for your reputation, either. Seek out the positive thinkers.
Be confident. Remind yourself as frequently as you need to that you were hired for a good reason. I find it’s helpful to go into a new role with a condensed version of your story: what you do, your background and what you’re excited to be working on. Don’t be the person who constantly brings up the way things were done at your old place of work or your colleagues will start to wonder why you ever left. Focus on your current role and what excites you about it.
Take on the challenging assignments, especially the ones that no one else wants. That’s how you learn, grow and distinguish yourself. In the early days, it’s important that you show examples of what you are capable of. When no one else volunteers, raise your hand.
Above all, enjoy yourself! You’ll doubtless be spending a lot of hours at work every day. You can help make it a good place to be, for you and your colleagues.
Physical Intervention and Conflict Management session.
Another successful Hostile Environment Operations course concluded last week for members of the UK International Search and Rescue (ISAR) team who deploy globally at short notice.
Three and a half days of BTEC Level 4 training to the highest standard; delivered by our great team of instructors.
These are just some of the complementary comments received from the delegates about the course:
Experience and age are great gifts when it comes to effectively and successfully hiring and retaining great talent. Below are some guiding principles used when recruiting, including four areas many employees focus candidates on and questions they typically use as filters in the first hour together.
ME or WE
To gain insight into how you see yourself in the world:
By asking simple questions about family, friends, peers, personal interests, sports, spirituality, and community employers can glean a better understanding of your true motivation and leadership attributes. This is usually the easy part, because people love to talk about themselves.
Often interviewers can’t help but slide in a favourite quote or two that sum up their leadership philosophies. They are looking to see how you respond:
A great coach used to say, “When ordinary people connect, extraordinary things can happen.”
A favourite quote from a management expert reads: “How will you know if you are a great leader?” He replied, “Turn around and see if anyone is following you.”
IQ or EQ
Once you are comfortable and your guard may be down, the interviewer may try to understand how you naturally navigate in the world.
They may then ask a few business questions about how you handle challenging situations and optimize opportunities. Possibly asking what your team and peers would say about you to gain deeper perspective on how balanced you are intellectually and emotionally.
By the time you reach the CEOs office, I think it is pretty safe to say you have already impressed. To make sure you are culturally compatible they will try to establish whether you are empathetic, compassionate, caring and giving of your heart and mind?
A wonderful quote, which is often used to sense if you truly care about the impact you make on people, is from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
LEFT BRAIN or RIGHT BRAIN
To go a little deeper and discover what lens you look at the world through.
Often the interviewer will go back to asking more personal questions; this is because they find they can better assess a candidate’s left brain-right brain balance by understanding what they studied and what they do in their spare time.
A company’s success is predicted by putting the right people in the right place at the right time. An interviewer will know what they and the company need, and will need to find out who you truly are so you can both thrive over the long term.
YESTERDAY, TODAY or TOMORROW
Lastly, interviewers love to learn what guides people in the world, or frames their reference points.
An interview, usually lasting around one hour, may be wrapped up by the interviewer making one last statement: “Before you leave I feel it is important to let you know how I feel…”
If they loved you, trust that they will tell you so. Often the interviewer will let you subtly with a comment such as “I look forward to continuing the conversation”.
If you are not right for the position, the interviewer hopefully will feel it is best to be honest. Any respectful interviewer will treat you as they would wish to be treated, and make sure you leave feeling positive; not everyone can be right for the current position.
At the end of any interview it is important that both the interviewee and interviewer can sleep at night. Everyone should leave with respect, both for themselves and the company.
Remember: Building a brilliant team is an interviewer’s job. Nothing they do can be more important or add more value. Therefore everyone has a lot to gain from a good interview.
Blue Mountain Group wishes you all “The very best of luck”.
These past few weeks have been particularly hard to digest. Recent terrorist attacks in Beirut, Egypt and Paris set the tone, and then news appeared of the deaths of multiple hostages in various cases. (See below for links.)
There was a twisted case out of China where a millionaire was abducted and a ransom demanded. In order to dissuade Zhang Yingqi from going to the police after he was set free, the kidnappers forced him to strangle a young woman in the belief that the footage would be reliable leverage. They were wrong, Zhang went to the police and four people have been arrested.
The recent hostage situation – in which gunmen held 170 people – in Mali was reportedly resolved in the Radisson Blu in Bamako. At least twenty seven people were killed, including an MP from Belgium.
China game changer?
We would be interested to hear your views – do you think the execution of a Chinese hostage is a game changer? What differences do you think this will make? FACEBOOK and TWITTER
Just one week in November –
Source: KR Magazine 20 November 2015
Please share this email with your colleagues and contact us at Blue Mountain Group if you have any comments, tips or corrections.
Blue Mountain Group offer Specialist Security Solutions and Professional Training for individuals and corporate clients. Call us on 01267 241907 for more information.
The early morning ritual
Before you go:
Before any journey ask yourself – ‘Do I really have to go?’ if yes:
On the move
1. If walking by yourself, get off your mobile phone. A lot of people think that being on the phone is safe because the person on the other line can call 911, but that rarely works out. Chatting can distract you; it’s better to be aware of your surroundings. That said…
2. If walking by yourself, hold your mobile phone and be ready to make an emergency call. Many phones now have a button on the screen to dial 911 immediately. Go one step further and pre-set one of the buttons on your phone to call the emergency number.
3. Look underneath your car before approaching it and have your car keys ready in your hand, instead of fumbling in your handbag right next to the car in a parking garage or lot at night.
4. If you return to your car and see that a van is parked right next to the driver’s side, enter through the passenger side. Predators often use vans and will disguise it as a family car, even using “Baby on Board” decals.
5. You return to your car and it has a flat tyre. Back away. Return to wherever you came from (restaurant, store, etc) and call for help. Once assistance arrives, approach your car. If someone comes up to you (even if they are a woman) and wants to offer help, politely say, “No thank you.” If a man, he could be a predator. If a woman, she could be the lurer.
6. When out shopping late at night, ask a security guard to walk you to your car. Do not go up to just any security guard. Go directly to the kiosk and ask for them to assign an officer to escort you. Predators sometimes dress up like men of the law. Carry a small torch.
7. When someone in a shop asks you to confirm your contact details, whisper it to them. Broadcasting your home address among strangers could compromise your safety.
8. Ditto if you’re checking in to a hotel room. If the person at the front desk says your room number out loud, ask them to give you a new room and write the number on a piece of paper. Or when you check-in, ask upfront that they not say your room number out loud. Your room number should be your business only.
9. Before entering your hotel room, make sure no one is lingering in the hallway.
10. Always immediately lock your hotel room door after you enter.
11. When traveling, do not walk with your map in your hand. It is a dead giveaway that you are a tourist. Therefore, you are an easy target.
12. If you call for room service, and you get a knock on your door, do not immediately open. Ask: “Who is it?” Make the person on the other side of the door tell you who they are before you open it.
13. When asking for directions and someone offers to show you the way by having you follow them, do not go. Just ask for them to point you in the right direction. Often, predators just want to get you to a place less crowded where your screams can’t be heard.
14. If someone tries to grab you, twist your arm up and down and yell, “Stop!” Do anything you can to draw attention to yourself.
15. Always pour your own drink at a party and bring it with you everywhere…even to the bathroom. This will make it a lot harder for someone to drug you via you drink.
16. Watch the bartender as he or she pours your drink. To be extra safe, drink wine instead of a cocktail. Mixed drinks take longer to make. You could be easily distracted and miss the bartender (who could be working with the predator) or someone else slipping something into your drink.
17. When going out with your girlfriends, decide beforehand that you will stick together. Do not let your friend go off alone with a stranger.
18. Put your apartment number, not your name on your intercom system. If you’re expecting guests, just let them know which number to push. This-way, only people who know you know exactly where you live.
19. If someone is chasing after you, run away in a zig zag pattern. This will exhaust your attacker.
20. Don’t check-in on Facebook when you arrive somewhere; avoid tweeting or Facebooking on vacation, especially if your account is public, this could be a way of letting the world know that your home is unoccupied.
21. When you move into a new place, check your smoke detector for a hidden camera. Your landlord could be spying on you.
If you have any more safety tips you think all females should know please let us know. We may include them in our training courses as we endeavour to make our training as realistic as possible, using real-life scenarios and experiences.
If you are interested in becoming an SIA qualification trainer you may be interested to know:
All trainers must have achieved:
Trainers who are unsure about their current qualifications or who wish to check their eligibility may do so by contacting any SIA endorsed awarding organisation.
All trainers delivering scenario-based conflict management training for licence-linked qualifications are required to hold a qualification at or above NQF/QCF Level 3 in the delivery of conflict management training.
We may publish additional requirements for trainers as and when they are agreed. Trainers looking to deliver licence-linked qualifications should ensure that they are fully familiar and compliant with the requirements as communicated by the relevant awarding organisation.
Trainers of Physical Intervention Skills
All trainers delivering physical intervention skills training for the door supervisor licence-linked qualifications must hold all of the following:
Trainers must demonstrate that they have the necessary experience, knowledge and understanding of the sector in which they are providing training.
To ensure that trainers have the right occupational expertise, we and awarding organisations require trainers new to the sector to have three years front line operational experience in the last ten in the UK, relevant to the qualifications that they are delivering.
Existing trainers must demonstrate to the awarding organisations that they are taking sufficient steps to keep their occupational expertise up to date. Suitable steps would include attendance at relevant conferences and seminars, and continuing work experience in the sector. Trainers must be able to demonstrate evidence of a suitable level of professional development in the sector, which should include the equivalent of at least thirty hours every year spent in a combination of training, increasing professional knowledge through other means or working in the industry.
A £20m underground training centre to practise hostage rescues is set to open in 2017, with its private-sector backers banking on a rising number of armed police to counter a growing terrorist threat.
The centre, for police and the military will provide five firing ranges, training for Tasers and mock-ups of houses, hotels and airports to conduct realistic anti-terror operations inside a decommissioned reservoir in Bedford.
The centre has2m-deep walls for sound-proofing, with the longest 100m range big enough for officers to practise intercepting cars, according to the National Firearms and Tactical Training Centre.
The backers say they are in advanced talks with police forces to exploit the demand for cheaper firearms training that it says it can provide for £100 a day. Senior officers say that firing ranges are expensive to build and maintain and are looking to collaborate with the private sector to cut costs.
Forces, including Avon and Somerset, Greater Manchester and Scotland Yard, host training centres, but officials behind the new project say that more places are needed.
“Over the next ten years, there will be an increasing number of officers that require the training,” said Andrew Young, marketing director. “While the British police and military have some of the best personnel and training facilities in the world, increasing demand means that there isn’t enough capacity.”
The current threat level from international terrorism is rated as “severe”, meaning that an attack is highly likely. Only one level is higher, critical, which means that an attack is anticipated imminently.
The project is the latest private-sector entry into police firearms training. KBR – a former subsidiary of the Halliburton group which built the Guantánamo Bay detention camp – has been contracted to run live firearms training in the UK. Mr Young said there had been interest from the authorities in France and Belgium about using the centre when it opens in January 2017.
Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and national lead for Armed Policing, said: “Access to good firearms training venues is vital but sites are expensive to build and maintain. The police service is committed to achieving the best value for money. This means that we will continue to explore opportunities to collaborate and consider the use of public and private venues to deliver training.”
Five UK universities are behind a new Centre for the development and use of economic and social science research to understand, mitigate and counter security threats. The Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) brings together researchers at the universities of Birmingham, Cranfield, Lancaster, Portsmouth and the West of England (UWE Bristol). Their aim is to be a national hub for research and training, developing an understanding of contemporary threats.
Launched on October 1st, the Centre was commissioned by, and will be administered by, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) that funds institutions. CREST is funded for three years with £4.35m from the UK security and intelligence agencies and a further £2.2m invested by the founding five universities.
Director of CREST Professor Paul Taylor, from Lancaster, said: “Bringing together the UK’s top economic, behavioural and social scientists with partners in industry and government will provide unprecedented opportunities to develop our understanding of security threats and how best to mitigate them. Today’s threats are challenging and diverse. The ambitious and innovative activities of CREST over the coming years will meet these challenges.”
The universities say that CREST will stimulate public and professional debate, connect disciplinary communities, inform security policy and practice, and provide training to research leaders of the future. Portsmouth will lead research on eliciting information, examining how best to promote accurate and complete recall. Prof Lorraine Hope from the University’s Department of Psychology said: “We have a successful track history of innovative and high impact research in this area. This is an excellent opportunity to develop and apply effective science-based interviewing techniques for use in security contexts.”
Cranfield will lead research on protective security and risk assessment. Dr Debi Ashenden, Head of the Centre for Cyber Security and Information Systems at Cranfield said: “By focusing on these areas, we will look to improve our understanding of the security risks we face and how we make decisions about mitigating those risks. It is very exciting to be working with such a unique mix of behavioural and social scientists on such a broad spectrum of security challenges.”
Lancaster will lead the research on ideas, beliefs and values in social contexts, examining how extremist ideologies are transmitted and countered. UWE Bristol will cover online behaviour – the role of the internet in threat initiation, organisation and mitigation.
Other topics included are ‘actors and narratives’, and ‘beliefs and values’ in social contexts. The project will initially fund 13 PhD students working across all five universities.
Attention-grabbing images and cheeky slogans are reminding motorists to take better care of their tyres.
October is Tyre Safety Month! Drivers will be urged to ‘Practice Safe Checks’ and asked ‘How Often Do You Do It?’
The Pictures on the posters and leaflets may raise a smile but the message of the TyreSafe campaign is deadly serious.
A survey conducted this summer by TyreSafe and Highways England found that more than a quarter of motorists were replacing tyres when they were already illegal.
The study collated data on the tread depth of tyres when they were replaced. With the legal minimum at 1.6mm, tread depth plays a decisive factor in braking and steering, especially in wet weather. Research has demonstrated that the braking distance from 50 mph to standstill in wet conditions increases by more than the length of a full sized shipping container – 14 metres – when using worn tyres rather than new ones, which dramatically raises the chances of a collision.
The advice to drivers is that they should always remember to ACT: Air pressure, Condition, Tread.
Is the vehicle’s pressure at the right level for the load? If you don’t: You could use more fuel than necessary, increase the wear and risk losing control of the vehicle.
Drivers are advised to inspect the tyre for signs of irregular wear or damage such as cuts, lumps or bulges. If you don’t, You risk driving with a defective tyre which can lead to a rapid deflation.
The law requires a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre. If you don’t: You can face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre, and reduce the amount of control you will have when accelerating, braking and cornering.
A simple way to check the tyre depth is to insert a 20p coin into the main grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible the tread depth may be illegal and should be checked by a qualified tyre specialist.
“TyreSafe does not believe millions of drivers are intentionally putting others at risk – it is more a question of educating motorists to take responsibility for their safety and that of others on the road,” said Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman. “As vehicles have become increasingly reliable, owners have become less used to performing what were once considered basic precautionary checks before setting off on a journey. Tyres too are much more technologically advanced but they do wear and can get damaged so it is down to the driver to regularly check when they’re safe.”
The purpose of a CV is to get you an interview; Not a job. The distinction is important and worth bearing in mind. The current job market is constantly changing and very competitive. Preparing your CV is a task you should take as seriously as looking for vacancies. So whilst your CV will not get you a job it can open the door to an interview.
So, what makes a good CV? Is there anything you should pay particular attention to as an ex-military job seeker? What are employers looking for? What are the most common pitfalls?
You can access a wealth of information online on CV writing. To help you focus, this guide gives you pointers on some of the top priorities to concentrate on.
Don’t forget, every CV you send out must be targeted to the job you are applying for.
MAKE SURE YOUR CV IS ‘CLEAR’
Laid out well
When putting a CV together you always need to consider the organisation you are applying to and what skills and experience they are after. Sounds obvious?
It can be tempting to send out the same CV to all employers. But you should never do that. You need to spend time tailoring your CV for each role that you apply for.
Research the company and use the job advert to work out exactly what they are looking for and how your skills match their requirements. The Recruiter will scan your CV to see if you tick the basic requirements they are looking for – and only then decide whether to invite you for an interview. Make it easy for the employer to scan your CV and see how you match their requirements, rather than letting them search for the relevant information. Chance is they won’t.
It is obvious to an employer if you have not spent time researching whether the information on your CV is relevant to their vacancy, so if the job is worth applying for, it is worth tailoring your CV accordingly.
Every CV should include a ‘personal statement’ or ‘career summary’. This gives you the opportunity to show how your experience relates to the vacancy you are applying for. The statement is often the part employers look at first and should explain why you are the best person for the job. This should also be reflected in your cover letter.
As you are moving into the civilian market, many future employers are not familiar with military terms or with what your job military job titles mean. A big consideration for you is how to translate your previous job titles and responsibilities and how to present the many transferable skills you will have gained from military service. You need to avoid military jargon and language to show how your training and experience gained in the military is relevant to the vacancy you are applying for. It is a good idea to show your CV to a ‘civilian’ to see if they understand it before you send it to a prospective employer.
It is very common for job seekers to have several versions of a CV – each contains the same factual information, but it will highlight different skills and experiences, according to what an employer is looking for.
Don’t forget we at Blue Mountain Group and staff at the CTP can help you translate your military experience into ‘civvy’ language.
Laid out well
Your CV is a potential employer’s first impression of you. There are many typefaces to choose from and it might be tempting to go for something you consider individual, modern or something which will stand out. Our advice is to make your CV as easy to read as possible and that means choosing a common business font such as Ariel, Times New Roman or Verdana.
Employers don’t spend more than a few seconds when they initially scan a CV and they don’t have time to search amongst graphics, cluttered paragraphs. Etc. for the information that they are looking for, so make sure you present your CV in an uncluttered layout. Use bullet points and keep sentences short. If you leave white space around text and between categories, it makes the layout easier on the eye.
Most CVs are now requested via email or uploaded to an online candidate management system. However, if you need to supply a CV in paper format, white A4 paper of a good quality is the best option; avoid coloured or patterned paper. CVs should never be crumpled or folded, so use an A4 envelope to post your applications.
Employers receive high volumes of applications and it’s easy to reject those CVs that don’t show the applicant paid attention to what they were doing.
Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors on your CV reflect poorly on you and what’s worse, employers DO notice. If you are applying for a role that calls for ‘attention to detail’ or ‘good written communication skills’ a CV with spelling mistakes will not do you any favours.
Mistakes such as omitting important information around qualifications or experience are even worse as they actually prevent you from presenting your strongest points.
The good news is you can avoid obvious errors like spelling mistakes by using a spell checker. When you have finished your CV read it through and pay attention to spelling, dates, qualifications and names of employers.
Make sure all details you list on your CV are accurate. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate educational achievements or embellish on what type of jobs you have done. Employers do background checks and take references and you don’t want to start a job on false pretences.
Your CV needs to emphasise the facts relevant to the position you are applying for. To do this effectively, research the role and list the skills, experiences and aspects of your background which are most relevant.
During your military service you may have gathered various qualifications and decorations but make sure you don’t confuse a potential employer by listing them out of context. Certain things will not have any relevance on a civilian CV.
‘Transferable skills’ are often talked about and no doubt you have loads to offer. You want your CV to demonstrate that the skills picked up during your military career can make a smooth transition into civilian life. Remember, civilian employers are unfamiliar with military jargon and explain why the skills or achievements you list are relevant.
A CV needs updating every time you change jobs, gain a new qualification or if it has been a while since you applied for a vacancy. Make sure every version you send out of your CV is completely up-to-date – employers will quickly spot ‘old versions’ where you may have highlighted your proficiency in Office 2000.
And remember, be proud of your military history
A career in the military is one of the most admired out there, so place this in the forefront of your mind when you start your search for a new role. You have marketable skills as well as a whole host of other experiences to lead with. That said; it is worth remembering that most civilians can be, understandably, reluctant to talk to you about any actual live combat details. Tone this down or remove it entirely from your CV to decrease the ‘squeamish’ factor many civilians may feel when faced with this reality.
Females can be just as effective as males within the close protection world, and sometimes better – often having a lower profile and better ‘soft skills’. The Prime Minister currently has a female CP operative, as does the Duchess of Cambridge. So why isn’t anyone in the UK running all-female close protection courses?!
Internet forum research claims that courses would have to be dumbed down to make them less physically intensive, and therefore less realistic, for women. The bottom line is that this view is sexist; we at Blue Mountain believe that women should not be intimidated out of doing close protection work. Women have the capacity to bring a different approach to the role; as was illustrated during the Olympic Torch UK Tour in 2012. The Torch Security Team had numerous female members. All were great at minimising escalation and reducing any crowd tension that arose if the “security bubble” around the torch was breached. Women bring an element of diversity, and diversity brings different ways of looking at problems, females also have different instincts and will often encourage people to think outside the box – no bad thing in any team situation.
More and more female close protection operatives are being sought by female celebrities. Some employers prefer to have a protector who is attentive, alert, quick-on-their-feet and someone won’t draw attention in public – the way a 6’ 5”, 350lb man could. For some celebrities even the need to have close protection on hand can feel disruptive to living a normal life. A female celebrity accompanied by a woman protector is a more natural fit and can be far less obtrusive.
Close protection work is not about brute strength, it is about applying intuition and instinct and combining those qualities with learned security skills to avoid the threat, or neutralise it, at the earliest stage.
If you are female and want a career in close protection but haven’t found the course that is right for you, don’t be put off – give Blue Mountain a call on 01267 241907 or visit www.bluemountaingroup.co.uk
More about becoming a Female CP Operative:
Close Protection Operatives protect individuals or groups from risk of violence, kidnapping or any other harmful situation. If you have great observational skills and want to work in a job where you would be helping people, this could be the job for you.
Dangerous situations are something you’ll need to recognise and react quickly to in this job. You’d also need to be able to stay calm under pressure.
To do this job you must be at least 18 years old and hold a close protection licence, issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). A driving licence is also essential.
– See more at: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/bodyguard.aspx#sthash.uFl3DfTy.dpuf
As a close protection officer (CPO), or bodyguard, your client or ‘principal’ could include celebrities, public figures, the royal family or heads of industry. You may be working as part of a larger close protection team with other CPOs and professional drivers or offering your services as an individual.
Your work would typically include:
You could work in high or low risk environments. This will depend on where you are working and who you are protecting. For example, in a high risk environment, you could be protecting a public figure in Iraq or Afghanistan. In a low risk environment your principal may be a celebrity who needs protection from over-eager fans.
You could specialise in a particular area, such as residential security or defensive and evasive driving techniques.
You may work as part of a 24-hour protection team. This could involve working long shifts in the day, evening or at the weekend. You could be working at indoor or outdoor venues, like conferences, political meetings and rallies. Depending on your client you could also be required to attend social events.
It is likely that you would be required to travel often in this job. You may also need to spend time away from home, sometimes overseas.
Most close protection officers are self-employed. Earnings will vary and depend on the client or company, the length of the contract, the officer’s experience and the risks involved.
Daily rates for CPOs in low risk areas can be around £100 to £150 plus expenses.
CPOs with high levels of responsibility or working in high risk areas can earn around £500 a day.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To work as a CPO in England and Wales you are required by law to have an SIA CP licence. To get a licence you will need:
The SIA may also make other checks to decide if you a suitable person to hold a licence. The SIA website has more detailed information.
To gain a close protection licence you will need to work towards the qualification that is recognised by the SIA.
The SIA has approved a number of bodies to award this recognised qualification. Look for course providers who offer the qualification awarded by one of the following organisations:
The SIA website has more information about the licensing process and a course search for training providers.
Many CPOs have a background in the armed forces or the police. This is not always essential, although some employers may prefer you to have a military background for work in high risk areas. Employers may also prefer to take people age 25 or over for security reasons.
You will need to be physically fit and have good eyesight and hearing. You’d also need to have a presentable appearance and be adaptable. For some jobs you may need to stand out in a crowd, for others you will need to be less obvious and blend into the background so people don’t know you are there.
The demand for female close protection officers is growing and more women are moving into this profession.
It may be useful if you have knowledge of one or more foreign languages. A driving licence is essential.
Training and development
Once you are working in close protection any training you do will usually be a mixture of on-the-job training and specialist courses.
You could decide to work towards a further qualification. The Foundation Degree in Protective Security Management is offered by Buckingham New University and can be studied online. The Buckingham New University website has more information.
You will need to renew your licence every three years. You do not need to do CP refresher training or complete a new qualification to do this.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a close protection officer, you will need to have:
The SIA will accept licence renewals up to four months in advance of when your current licence expires. If your application for renewal is successful and is processed before your existing licence expires, you will not be disadvantaged as the new licence will expire three years after your current licence expires.
If you submit your application earlier than this it will be treated as a new application. If the application is successful your new licence will expire three years from when we grant it. It will not be extended by the time remaining on your current licence.
A licence renewal costs the same as a new application (£220). No additional training or qualification is required for a licence renewal unless you are renewing a door supervisor licence and you have not attained one of the current licence-linked qualifications (see below).
Licence Renewals and Training
You don’t need to re-take your training if you currently hold a licence and are looking to renew it. However, if you gained your qualification before the current ones were introduced (June 2010) then you won’t have undertaken some of the training that people with the newer qualifications will have received.
You will need to take this extra training if:
You do not need to take this extra training if:
If you require the extra training then you will need to pass the ‘Up-Skilling for Door Supervisors’ award before you can renew your licence. The award involves one day of training in physical intervention as well as self-study on topics such as first aid, awareness of terrorist threats and considerations in dealing with children and young people. It is available from training providers offering the licence-linked door supervision qualification. Blue Mountain Group do not currently offer this training.
The physical intervention training included in this award has been available as a stand-alone unit since June 2010. If you have previously completed this training then you will not need to repeat it; you can submit your existing certificate to the training provider and ask for it to be recognised as prior learning. However, you will still need to complete a self-study workbook and pass an assessment in order to gain the qualification.
If you hold a door supervisor licence but carry out the licensable activities of a security guard (that is, you do not work in relation to licensed premises) then you may choose to change to a security guard licence when your licence comes up for renewal. You will not have to take additional training in order to do so, just request ‘Security Guard’ on your renewal application (Section B – Application Type).
In June 2014, the PASS (Proof of Age Standard Scheme) 18+ Design Standard, was relaunched introducing a common look and feel across all PASS hologram cards.
PASS has strong support from the UK Government through the Home Office, the police through the National Police Chiefs Council (formerly ACPO) and the SIA.
PASS is also backed by a number of Trade Bodies and the industry in general as a viable and reliable alternative to passports and driving licences.
A year on from the relaunch there have been a number of PASS card holders being refused admission to licensed premises.
In response PASS National Director, Marc Catchpole responded
“We want to reassure door staff that all our PASS card issuers are rigorously audited to ensure they operate to the highest standards. Our processes follow those used by the Passport Office themselves.
We have had reports that some door staff are refusing to accept PASS cards because they fear there may be fakes on the market.
The police have made it clear that “provided the 5 Step Due Diligence Process is followed when IDs are being checked and that this is part of your training, then should an under-age person make it inside despite those checks, then no one is going to be prosecuted or fined.”
5 Step Process, as applied to PASS Cards:
If you are in any doubt, retain the card and return it to PASS for inspection.
If you would like more information about PASS or to receive training materials/sample cards, please contact Marc Catchpole, the PASS National Director at email@example.com or on 07921 689026
Article taken from:
It is a safe, thoughtful and methodical way of driving. Advanced drivers are more observant and better at anticipating changes in the surrounding conditions. Because of this they are able to plan their driving to deal with any circumstances.
Advanced Driving is based upon the ‘System of car control’ as detailed in Roadcraft – The Police Driver Handbook. It is unlikely that anyone will gain a high grade without a good knowledge of the current editions of The Highway Code and Roadcraft.
“Advanced driving is the ability to control the position and speed of the vehicle safely, systematically and smoothly, using road and traffic conditions to progress unobtrusively with skill and responsibility. This skill requires a positive but courteous attitude and a high standard of driving competence based on concentration, effective all round observation, anticipation, and planning. This must be co-ordinated with good handling skills. The vehicle will always be at the right speed with the correct gear engaged and can always be stopped safely on its own side of the road in the distance that can be seen to be clear.”
– DSA, RoADAR, IAM, 1997
Reduce the risk of having a crash
Advanced drivers and riders have been proven less likely to be involved in a road traffic incident!
Improved Fuel Consumption
Advanced driving and riding techniques teach you the most cost effective way to drive, to keep fuel consumption to a minimum!
Less wear and tear to your vehicle
By using the ‘system of car or motorcycle control’ techniques, your driving or riding will be smoother, resulting in less wear and tear!
If you attend our Blue Mountain Group Close Protection Course you will be offered a RoSPA/RoADAR Advanced Driver Test as part of your course. Alternatively, we offer bespoke driving courses to corporate clients at their chosen location.
The Visorcat is an award-winning motorcycle safety product. For the first time, the motorcycle rider is able to safely keep the visor clean while riding. The product contains a patent-protected wash/wipe system which is simple and intuitive to use – simply wipe one way to clean the visor using a wet sponge, and wipe the other way for a dry wipe with a rubber blade. There is a fluid reservoir that feeds the sponge using an automatic wicking system.
The Visorcat has been reviewed by the BMF, MAG, RiDE magazine, Overland magazine and Adventure Bike Rider magazine, among others. The Motorcycle Action Group said: “Spending £30 on a Visorcat could be the best £30 you ever spent” and the BMF said “If you ride a bike you need a Visorcat”.
The Visorcat is available to RoSPA members at a 15% discount. Simply enter the discount code in the discount code box when ordering from www.visorcat.com. The Visorcat is not yet available in shops.
Another offer available to RoADAR Members is a bulk buy discount – buy 5 or more for £20 each, which is 1/3 off the usual online price of £30. This offer is not available on the website, so enquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out the code for your discount please email email@example.com
The SIA regularly prosecute individuals and organisations who do not comply with the legal requirements of the Private Security Industry Act 2001.
They may also prosecute anyone within the private security industry who commits a criminal offence that could have a detrimental impact on the industry – for example, fraud or offences under the Identity Documents Act 2010.
The SIA do not take this action lightly so before they conduct a criminal investigation they determine:
As of 31 July 2015 the SIA have been conducting 25 criminal investigations relating to 24 businesses and 58 individuals. Last month they opened two new investigations which are on-going.
Licence Processing Times
The SIA aim to process a minimum of 80% of all correctly completed applications within 25 working days. In July 2015, 88% of all applications were processed within 25 working days.
Stay within the licencing laws and train with us at Blue Mountain Group.
Top six kidnap countries January – December 2014
The above are based on kidnap for ransom incidents recorded in open source news reports and captured up to the end of December 2014.
Towards the end of 2015 the SIA are introducing new on-line services that will improve the information available to you, speed up the application process, and enhance the service that they provide.
They are hosting a series of short briefings throughout the UK in September and October to explain the changes.
Each event will provide an overview of the changes, a Q&A session and, following the briefing, an opportunity to meet the SIA team for a one to one discussion.
The changes will affect both licence holders and businesses so we hope you will be able to attend to find out the facts and ask questions.
During the events they will provide information on:
The SIA want to make sure that as many people as possible are correctly informed about the changes.
The events are free to attend and will take place at the following locations:
Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. You are encouraged to reserve your place as early possible to avoid disappointment.
British Transport Police (BTP) has pointed to an 11th consecutive year of reduced crime on the railways; although not all categories of crime have seen a fall. An additional 724 violent crimes were recorded by BTP in 2014/15, which represents a rise of 8%, albeit this is much lower than the average rise reported by Home Office sources. The majority of cases were lesser types of assault involving pushing and shoving rather than those resulting in more serious injuries, according to the source.
Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock said: “The rise in violent crime is a concern, but it is also worth noting, again, that the chances of being a victim of any crime are small. The use of more officers patrolling late-night trains and at peak periods, as well as our extensive CCTV network is helping to halt this rise. What is worrying is that, in a disproportionate amount of these offences, it is police officers or railway staff, who are the victims of assault; often as a result of their intervention in seemingly ordinary incidents such as non-payment of fares or petty anti-social behaviour.”
The full BTP annual report and statistical bulletin can be viewed online at http://www.btp.police.uk/annualreport2014-15. Tumblr site: http://btpannualreport2014-15.tumblr.com/
It is estimated that 95% of Road crashes are due to human error. The other 5% are due to mechanical failure, which could not have been prevented or predicted, and external factors such as a tree falling across the road.
Why does human error play such a large part in the cause of crashes?
To answer this there are four areas to look at and consider which have the greatest influence over the likelihood of a crash happening, they are:
It is up to us to be honest and recognise which is which. Our personality and the way we choose to live our lives will inform the context of the journey and influence whether we choose to follow the rules and procedures, maintaining the best vehicle control we are capable of. The true root cause of almost all crashes is the behavioural choices we as drivers make every time we drive. Stay Safe!
Taken from the article written by Keith Bell, Quality Manager, RoSPA Fleet Safety for Care on the Road magazine August 2015 Issue. ISSN 0045-5768
First aid qualifications are changing – with new requirements for tutors, assessors and IQA from later in the year.
The changes, which come into effect from 1 October 2015, will see a number of updates implemented designed to improve the rigour of first-aid qualifications and safeguard learners.
Details of the changes include requirements that:
Where assessors and IQAs do not hold the required qualifications, they will need to undertake first-aid assessor/IQA CPD training with an Awarding Organisation.
Further details of the tutor/assessor and IQA qualifications can be found within the qualification specification for any of the HABC first aid at work qualifications or within the Skills for Health assessment principle document.
HABC account managers are currently reviewing all tutor certificates held on the HABC system. Tutors/assessors that do not fulfill the requirements by 1 October 2015 will not be able to be selected by Centers when posting a course.
Blue Mountain would like to congratulate all who completed and took part in the 785 mile cycle ride for the Welsh Veterans Partnership. Nigel Thomas of Blue Mountain met with some of the riders last week at Zip World in Bethesda for a hair-raising flight over the Welsh slate mine. Big thanks to Sean and Johara of Zip World for arranging the day. On Sunday the WVP met with Hire a Hero at their HQ in Mamhilad, Pontypool.
Blue Mountain’s own Nigel Thomas and Trustee of the Welsh Veterans Partnership, arrived at the Tenby Harbourmasters Office last Friday afternoon somewhat earlier than the riders to check that everything was in order at the Harbourmasters Office, where superb refreshments had been laid on by courtesy of David from Princes Gate Spring Water. Prior to their departure Colonel Hugh Bodington MBE, of the Welsh Guards and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the charity thanked the Tenby representatives for offering such a warm welcome to the riders. Cllr. Trevor Hallett of the Tenby Town Council and Gordon Prime of the Tenby Branch for the Royal British Legion both said words of appreciation to the visitors for coming to the town and wished them well for their endeavour. Others present to welcome the cycling team were Chris Morris and Graham Phillips, both of the Tenby Branch, Royal British Legion. It was also fantastic to see support from Welsh Rugby in the form of Ryan Jones and Ian Gough.
Nigel Thomas CEO Blue Mountain Group, reports that he and his team at Blue Mountain are very proud to support the Welsh Veterans Partnership we wish them good weather with plenty of tea and welsh cakes along the west coast.
We will see you at Zip World in Bethesda on Tuesday 11th August along with veterans from the Blind Veterans home in Llandudno for a hair-raising flight over the old Welsh slate mine.
Blue Mountain Group, in partnership with Centurion Risk Assessment Services Ltd, successfully provided the Vodafone Foundation with a bespoke Team Leaders course specifically for hostile environments. We wish the Vodafone Foundation all the very best for future deployments and to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
Nigel Thomas, CEO of Blue Mountain Group
*The following has been copied from Circuit Magazine*
As a Close Protection Officer you might find yourself working with a variety of age groups, and as those who have done it can tell you, working with children and teenagers in any environment can be both rewarding and challenging.
It presents challenges which will vary depending on the person’s age, background, and lifestyle. Your own personal comfort level will also factor into the equation as well, to be sure. The child’s age and comprehension will determine how much direct interaction you will need to have with them and how much feedback (and sometimes grief) you will receive from them in return. For most people, the most difficult ages are in the 11-17 range. Those in this age group typically crave acceptance and attention, will often strive to fit in with their peer group, but yet they develop a myriad of personality traits that very much makes them an individual.
They seemingly always have to have some kind of stimulation (e.g. video games, electronics, sports, social events, etc.), and have a natural curiosity of their surroundings. This curiosity will inevitably include you if you work with (or for) them in any capacity. Some of them will like the attention while others will resist your presence in their lives. Most children and teenagers have the mind-set that the world revolves around them anyway, and have a tendency to encroach on personal boundaries, which makes some people uncomfortable. It helps to realize that they will probably point out your flaws and shortcomings at some point, but it’s not about you, so don’t take things personally. If you are not sure what your flaws may be, you may be in for a surprise. Remember, don’t take it personally.
Young people of all ages think very much “in the moment” and their attitude can change based on their situation. Things that adults perceive as being no big deal can seem like a life altering experience to them. They also may not have the emotional self-regulation skills to maintain control during these real or perceived threatening situations, and should not be looked at simply as smaller adults. For some, thoughts of the future do not exceed more than a few hours ahead. Social media, sports teams, and peer groups often define their reality more so than what we consider the “norm”. What is important to you may not be important to them, but learn to at least be aware of their realities. Likewise, what you recognize as dangerous behaviours, may not garner a second thought, or even a flinch of hesitation, from them. Taking advantage of any opportunity to show an interest in what they do can give you greater influence over reducing these behaviours. Anything that helps you connect with them will be of benefit to you when you need their cooperation, for example, quickly embussing into a vehicle during a movement.
Establishing trust is as important with them as it is with adults – perhaps even more so. When they trust you, they will do whatever you ask. It also helpful in gaining their cooperation to ask for their compliance (“could you….” or “would you please….”), rather than demanding that they do what you say. No one likes to be told what to do, and that does extend to naturally defiant kids and teenagers. While you are not their parent, you will likely be seen as some kind of authority figure, and approaching them in the wrong manner can make your protective assignment that much more difficult. Sometimes working with this age group can seem like more of an art than a science. Also, be aware that children will see and hear more than adults give them credit for. They notice everything about you, including your attitude.
If you act like you don’t want to be there, they notice. If you are lax in your expectations, they notice. If you ignore them when they don’t want to be, they notice. Understand the concept that to them, even negative attention is sometimes good attention. Model the kind of behaviour that you want to see from them, and they will usually return it. All kids need some kind of structure and usually function better with routine and consistency. That doesn’t necessarily mean having the same travel routes or the same daily schedule, but it does refer to being consistent with your expectations, and not to confuse them with wildly different expectations for different settings. Many young people will have a certain amount of self-imposed chaos and drama in their lives already, and any perceived outside addition, whether it’s real or imagined, may exacerbate those feelings. For Close Protection Officers, I suppose it’s fair to say that working with young people can be more an art than an exact science and through patience and understanding, our plan is to get straight “A’s”.
*The following has been copied from the Highfield awarding body for compliance newsletter*
The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has clarified its identification requirements for licence applications after changes introduced by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
The clarification comes after the DVLA stopped issuing paper counterparts to the driving-licence photocard this June in England, Scotland and Wales, causing some confusion amongst Centres as to what would be accepted as part of the SIA’s Group A and Group B identification requirements.
After enquiries to HABC from Centres, the SIA has confirmed that it will accept:
The SIA will not accept a two-part driving licence as both a Group A and Group B document.
For further information, click here.
In February, Blue Mountain announced that the SIA will be making changes to modernise the licensing system and to streamline processes. Towards the end of 2015, the SIA will be launching new online services that will improve the information available to applicants and businesses, speed up the application process, and improve the service that it provides to the industry.
The SIA has announced what is changing.
Individuals applying for or renewing a licence will do so through a new self-service website. Changes will include:
Those applying for their first SIA licence will be required to have their identification documents verified at a participating Post Office.
Licence Assist will:
Licence Management will:
Further information will soon be available on the SIA website.
Nigel Thomas, CEO Blue Mountain Group, was recently invited to be a guest speaker at the CBRNe conference held at the Hotel Grand Hill, Tokyo. Amongst the audience were senior officers from the Japanese military, university professors and government representatives.
Nigel talked about Special Forces and the integration of human behaviour. The conference was organised by Normeca Asia, Nigel’s talk was very well received with him being invited back to talk at another event in October this year and again in 2016.
As you may be aware from previous updates, the SIA recently held a public consultation on their revised Specifications for Learning. As a result, awarding organisations have been updating the licence-linked qualifications to reflect the new Specifications for Learning.
Previously, Blue Mountain Group offered the Pearson Edexcel qualification ‘Pearson BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Close Protection’. This has now been directly replaced with the new qualification ‘Pearson BTEC Level 3 Certificate for Working as a Close Protection Operative within the Private Security Industry’.
Amongst other changes, the qualification has now been divided into three separate units:
Unit 1: Working as a Close Protection Operative (Guided learning hours = 56) (Credit Value = 7)
Unit 2: Planning, Preparing and Supporting a Close Protection Operative (Guided learning hours =76) (Credit Value = 9)
Unit 3: Conflict Management within the Private Security Industry (Guided learning hours = 8) (Credit Value = 1)
If you’re interested in attending our New Blue Mountain Group Close Protection course, please visit http://www.bluemountaingroup.co.uk/training/
This is one of the most common questions we get asked. Many of us at Blue Mountain have made the difficult transition from the military to civilian life and we are fully aware of how hard it can be. Just knowing exactly what it is you want to do and how to go about getting there can be bewildering.
Much like any sector there are numerous roles within the industry whether it is as an operative or a supervisor or manager, the route and courses involved are determined by what you want to do and the aspirations you have.
Two key areas and ones we most commonly see ex-military personnel entering into are the Close Protection and Maritime Security roles therefore these are the areas we will address in this aide memoire.
It is well known that most employers recognise the qualities, skills and strengths that ex-military personnel bring to the table and there are various organisations that actively promote these qualities to employers worldwide. Employers in the main seek the following qualities: integrity, loyalty, reliability, smart personal presentation, strong work ethic, flexibility, good organisational and communication skills and a strong sense of team work. You will have gained and honed these qualities and skills in the military and the trick is translating what you have done to best illustrate this fact into a language employers understand – Get your CV right; the CTP will give you masses of help with this – use them!
Civilian qualifications and licences
There are legislative restrictions and quality assurance processes that must be followed in order to enter the commercial security industry. These dictate that you must hold particular licences and qualifications before you can operate legally within the industry.
To operate in the UK you must be licenced through the Security Industry Authority (SIA). To gain this licence you first need to complete the following courses:
Level 3 in Close Protection, and
First Aid at Work (FAW), or First Person on Scene Intermediate (FPOS I).
You can then apply through the SIA for your licence.
Further information on the licence application can be gained from the SIA website. http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/training-cp.aspx
Further information on the Level 3 in Close Protection and FPOS I courses can be gained from our website:
Most employers will insist you hold these qualifications and the licence even if you are looking to work abroad as it illustrates that the appropriate understanding and skills are held, providing them with quality assurance.
We would recommend that you complete the FPOS I as opposed to the FAW as it provides a higher level of training relevant to the job role in Close Protection and tends to be the qualification most, if not all, employers seek from their operatives.
Many car drivers unintentionally exceed the speed limit. Modern cars are so powerful and comfortable they give drivers little sensation of their speed. It is too easy to creep above the limit; in fact many drivers believe it is difficult to drive a modern car at a 30 mph speed limit. Nevertheless all drivers are responsible for the speeds at which they drive, but there are some simple and practical things that can be done for those who find it difficult to stay within speeds limits:
Even a small amount above the limit makes a big difference.
Refresh your skills on a driver training course today!
For more detailed information on these tips check out RoSPA’s page here.
Blue Mountain Group is proud to show our support the 65° North team in their efforts to record the world’s first unsupported crossing of the Greenland ice cap by an amputee, Peter Bowker. Peter was injured in the recent conflict in Afghanistan and spent 3½ years in rehabilitation before finally losing his lower right leg.
The 6 strong team will cover the near 600 km crossing of the ice cap from Kangerlussuaq in the West to Kulusuk in the East. The team will be conducting the unsupported crossing on skis, pulling pulks weighing up to 300 lbs containing their food, clothing and survival equipment. Collectively, they will battle against the distance and fatigue, temperatures as low as -37°c and resident polar bears. This world record attempt is estimated to take between 24-30 days, with Peter being amongst former Special Forces personnel. The team are currently in Norway practicing the skills needed to survive this gruelling challenge.
Nigel Thomas, CEO of Blue Mountain, will oversee the expedition as team manager and will use the Blue Mountain HQ as a base of operations during the expedition.
Please visit www.65degreesnorth.co.uk to show your support.
I recently had a chat with Blue Mountain Group’s CEO Nigel Thomas to discuss his work with charity in the past, present and future. Here’s what he had to say.
So Nigel, can you start us off by please telling us a little about yourself.
Certainly, I grew up in Carmarthenshire and on leaving school I started working for Phil Hughes, a local butcher in St Clears. After seven years as a butcher, I joined the Royal Marines. I currently own and manage Blue Mountain Security Solutions Ltd, a high end security and training company.
Please give us a brief history of the origins of the St David’s Day Dinner.
I met an English gentleman whilst skiing in France and he invited me to a St George’s day event in Watford. Travelling home from the event I decided to run a St David’s Day dinner the following year. The first event just happened to be on my 40th birthday.
How long has the dinner been running?
The dinner on 6th March 2015 will be the 13th year in succession.
How much money has the Dinner raised over the years?
On average we raise around £10,000 each year, so around £130,000 has been raised to date.
How many charities have benefited from the Dinner?
The usual ones are the HOPE Centre Neyland, Cardigan Oxygen Therapy Centre and the Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust. Over the years there have been others that have benefited.
Why did you opt to support these particular charities?
My mother suffered with Multiple Sclerosis and I wanted to support local charities who help MS suffers on a daily basis. The Hope Centre and Cardigan Centre both have oxygen therapy chambers, which is known to sometimes help sufferers, and so the money goes directly to them to help them with the overheads of running such a facility.
The Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust is a charity close to my heart. Ray was a character and friend and so I am very happy to support the trust. They help so many different organisations and individuals in the local area.
What would you say to those who haven’t been to the dinner yet and why should they come along?
If you enjoy a laugh amongst some great people with good entertainment and fantastic food then come along. You may meet old friends and make some new friends but I can guarantee you will want to come again.
Your charity work doesn’t stop at just dinners, you recently took part in a charity bike ride from Land’s End to John O’ Groats, tell us about that.
The challenge of cycling from Land’s End to John O’ Groats (or as it was known during the event, the Butcher’s Bike Challenge) was to raise the profile of a number of charities over the thirteen days it took to complete, including The Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust, Walk on Wales, Hire a Hero and Team Army. As with most things we do in life, we needed to be different and so a 1940’s butchers bike was used for the ride. It was a hard old slog but very worthwhile as we achieved our aim of raising the charities profiles.
Nigel accepting his Local Hero Award in 2013 for his work with local charities
Any more plans for supporting charities in the future?
I am currently involved in a project to cross Greenland next May; the charity of choice is Help for Heroes. We have the Royal Foundation approval for this event and if successful it will become a world record.
I am also a trustee of the Walk on Wales (WOW) charity and support a number of military charities who are not well known in the public domain.
The St David’s Day Charity Dinner is on Friday 6th March 2015. If you have not yet reserved a seat, you can do so by emailing Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or by ringing the Blue Mountain Office on 01267 241907.
The early morning ritual
Before you go:
Before any journey ask yourself – ‘Do I really have to go?’ if yes:
On the move
The traffic camera captures a kidnapping which happened in Mexico on 22nd Sep 2014. Gabriel Gómez Michel, a high profile politician was driving with his personal assistant in the black SUV. In the video you see the black SUV in the fast lane. The traffic appears to slow due to a legitimate delay on the road ahead, however this ‘boxing in’ of the SUV is all part of the organized kidnap. Note the white sedan coming to a stop in front of the SUV and a second vehicle (white people carrier) coming to a stop in the lane next to the SUV. These vehicles remain in place boxing the SUV in while the SUV is forced to come to a stop and the kidnappers force their way into the black SUV.
The SUV is found the next day burned out containing the burned bodies of Gomez Michel and his personal assistant.
The planning and execution of the kidnapping looks quite professional but the plan may not have been successful had there been counter measures in place, even the minimum level of protection would have frustrated the execution of the kidnapping. To see how this could have been avoided, check out our Close Protection and Kidnap and Ransom courses.
Yes it is nearly that time of year once again. Since 2002 people like you have been supporting Blue Mountain’s charity initiatives plus the Boss’ individual efforts and together we have raised over £320K for charity. Having raised £12K this year with your support we are looking forward to topping this on 6th March 2015 at the Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli. It really is a great night so book your ticket now!
The event costs £35 per person which includes a three course dinner. In order to book your place please contact Zoe, Rhian or Steve on 01267 241907 or by e-mail email@example.com.
The process of claiming Enhanced Learning Credits for ex-regular personnel seems daunting, in fact it is quite straight forward but time consuming. First of all call ELCAS to confirm you are registered on the Scheme on Tel: 0845 3005179. If they say yes you then need to go to the ELCAS website WWW.enhancedlearningcredits.com and click on ‘Claiming’ at the top, a drop down menu will appear and you need to select ‘Ex-Service’. All the info you need is there but we have detailed the main points below:
Please note that the following information must be submitted via post (but we advise you email it as well) to your Single Service Representative (address details below) a minimum of 25 working days prior to your course start date:
• Fully completed claim form (section 1, 2 and 3) – provided as single-sided pages submitted via post unless residing overseas
• Evidence of your last day of Service which can be one of the following:- copy of your discharge document, copy of P45 terminating employment, document stamped by regiment confirming leaving date
• A copy of your driving licence or passport
• A copy of a utility bill showing your home address
• Full information about the course that you wish to undertake to include details of your registration date where applicable
• A copy of your Acknowledgment of Scheme Membership
• A letter explaining how your chosen course of study will contribute towards personal development
• Completion and submission of course evaluation form for all previous ELC funded courses (if applicable)
Ex – Army
ELC Manager, D Ed Cap,
Zone 4, Floor 2
Ramillies Building, HQLF
Monxton Road, Andover
Email queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ex – Navy
ELC Manager NTE(ER2)
Floor 3, Mailpoint 3.3
Leach Building, Whale Island
Tel: 02392 625954
Email: mailto: mailto: NAVYTRGHQ-EL3RRESETSO3C@mod.uk
Ex – RAF
22 Trg Gp
Room 227, Trenchard Hall
Sleaford, Lincs,NG34 8HB
Tel: 01400 268183
Blue Mountain Group have recently become the preferred training provider for the third largest security company in the world who are always looking for good quality, well trained Close Protection Operatives, both male and female who meet the following criteria:
If you meet the above criteria, want to work in Close Protection, then contact Blue Mountain Group.
Blue Mountain Group has GENUINE job interviews on successful completion of our Close Protection course and to date, offers of employment have been made to everyone we have recommended to them.
For more information on attending our courses, please send all inquiries to this email address: email@example.com or call us on 01267 241907.
A Grab Bag is exactly what it says it is – a bag you always have at hand that you can grab and exit from a bad situation (or in extreme emergencies run with) should you need to. If you know you are going into a difficult country preparing a Grab Bag can be a good idea and a useful first step for dealing with emergencies.
An emergency Grab bag should contain vital information and items that will be useful to you in an emergency. The bag should be small enough to carry, be stored in a safe and secure place where you can easily grab it should there be an emergency. You should prepare your Grab Bag upon arrival in the Hostile Environment and ensure it contains only items that would be permitted to pass through customs in hand luggage.
Some suggestions on what your Grab Bag might contain:
Note: A small amount of cash should be in your wallet and the rest in a secure money belt or inside pocket of the clothes you are wearing.
There may be other more personal items you would like your Grab Bag to contain but remember, you will need to carry the bag around with you in an emergency so don’t make it too heavy!
If you are interested in reducing your vulnerability in environments where kidnap and other forms of criminal attack are common check out our Hostile Environment Operations training courses.
Females can be just as effective as males within the close protection world, and sometimes better – often having a lower profile and better ‘soft skills’. The Prime Minister currently has a female CP operative, as does the Duchess of Cambridge. So why isn’t anyone in the UK running all-female close protection courses?! Researching the chatter over the internet forums the claim is that the courses would have to be dumbed down by making them less physically intensive and less realistic. The bottom line is that this view is sexist; we at Blue Mountain believe that women should not be intimidated out of doing close protection work. They have the capacity to bring a different approach to the work, as was illustrated during the Olympic Torch UK Tour in 2012. The Torch Security Team had numerous female members, who were great at minimizing escalation and reducing any crowd tension that rose if the security bubble around the torch was breached. Women bring an element of diversity; diversity brings different ways of looking at problems, different instincts and will often encourage people to think outside the box – no bad thing in any team situation. More and more female close protection operatives are being sought by female celebrities. Some employers prefer to have a protector who is attentive, alert, and quick on their feet and won’t draw attention in public – the way a 6 foot 5, 350lb man could. For some celebrities even the need to have close protection on hand can feel disruptive to living a normal life. A female celebrity accompanied by a woman protector is a more natural fit and less obtrusive. Close protection work is not about brute strength, it is about applying intuition and instinct, and combining those qualities with learned security skills to avoid the threat or to neutralize it at the earliest stage.
If you are female and want a career in close protection but haven’t found the course that is right for you, don’t be put off – give Blue Mountain a call on 01267 241907.
Every year since 2002 Blue Mountain have been running a St David’s Day charity dinner to raise funds for local MS charities and the Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust. Having raised £14,000 this year we are looking forward to topping this on 28 February 2014 at the Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli. We will have contributions from the world of Rugby, the SAS/SBS, a Welsh Youth Choir, Lleisiau Hardd and the hilarious comedian Harry Scott. We also have Jim Motherwell playing for us; he was the 10th Queen’s Piper and fulfilled the role for five years.
The monies raised in 2013 have been divided between two local Multiple Sclerosis Centres. The beneficiaries are the HOPE Centre in Neyland which is an oxygen therapy centre designed to correct a lack of oxygen in the tissues of the body for those with multiple sclerosis www.pembrokeshire-hope.org.uk and the MS Society Cardigan Branch, who also have an oxygen therapy unit www.msoxygen.org.uk. The other beneficiary is the Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust.
The event costs £35 per person which includes a three course dinner. In order to book your place please contact Zoe, Rhian or Steve on 01267 241907 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cold in a car
How do we cope if we’re faced with a night in the back seat of our car?
Apart from the obvious pre-trip checks concerning your vehicle (clear all windows and lights, keep anti-freeze topped up etc.) your motto should always be ‘prepare for the worst but hope for the best’.
This means being prepared to spend a minimum of 24 hours in your car in the cold. Remember that if you have broken down, and you are unable to get immediate help because of the snow, your car heater may not be usable – for safety reasons or just because the car is broken down. Although you’ll be protected from lethal wind-chill inside your vehicle, your car is still a big metal fridge-like box and so could easily fall below zero inside.
Pack a blanket or warm sleeping bag, a hat, scarf, coat and gloves. A snow shovel is a good idea for self-rescue, as is a bright marker of some sort to attract rescuers or just alert other motorists of your stationary status. Obviously don’t forget your mobile phone but pack a charger too. Pre-packaged snacks and a nice big flask containing a hot, sweet drink will be a real bonus if you find yourself stranded. Keep all this neatly packed in a box, throw in a good book and a head torch and what many might consider a life threatening emergency can become a pleasant bit of ‘me time’, albeit by the side of a snowy motorway.
Driving on ice
Keep your speed slow – very slow. There is not much you can do once the vehicle decides to slide.
Driving on snow
Driving downhill in slippery conditions
Use the gears to maintain a slow speed. Accidental excessive brake pressure may cause the wheels to lock up. First gear allows the wheels to rotate without lock up and engine braking controls the speed.
Key safety points
The early morning ritual
Before you go:
Before any journey ask yourself – ‘Do I really have to go?’ if yes:
On the move
Working out how to break into the civvy security world can be confusing. There are loads of questions: What security course should you do? Which company should you choose? Is there a realistic chance of employment after the course? What support can you expect from a training provider after completion of the course? This is your future – so do the research.
Doing a high quality Close Protection course is a good start on your newly chosen career path, but you must plan for further career development. In today’s ever changing world, security is one of the growing markets. If you are planning on going into the civilian security world, then you are probably going to end up working in some very difficult environments where the risks to you and your colleagues are high – the threat to life will be real! Blue Mountain can provide you with the relevant skills to survive in these hostile areas. Our focus is on equipping you with the physical and mental skills you need to be among the best operating in these locations. Today’s security industry needs quality people – our training will change your mind set and put you in that ‘quality’ category! On top of gaining a BTEC Level 4 Professional Award in Hostile Environment Operations you will have trained with some of the best people in the industry. Our instructors are passionate about their subjects and remain active and current.
Any good Close Protection Officer (CPO) is continually assessing the threat to the person they are protecting (the Principle). An important part of assessing the threat is to know and understand the way the Principle lives his/her life. This knowledge will build as the CPO spends time working for the Principle.
There are 7 ‘Ps’ a CPO should consider when profiling the Principle and these should be re-visited constantly when assessing threat;
PEOPLE – Know who the Principle’s enemies are but also gain an understanding of the relationships the principle has, casual or intimate, business or personal. Any of these relationships can cause problems. An extreme example would be that the Principle has extra marital affairs. This can leave him exposed to blackmail, attack by a jilted lover or a scorned wife. The list goes on!
PLACES – The question here is what threat is posed by the places that the principle frequents in his working life and personal life present to him.
PERSONALITY – Assess the Principle’s personality; this in turn will give you a good idea as to how people will react to him. If he has great interpersonal skills and a wonderful charismatic personality it is unlikely that he will irritate others. However, if he is arrogant, self-centred and abrasive the chances are people may take a dislike to him. This sort of person may attract trouble (especially if alcohol is involved) and will always keep the CP operative on their toes!
PREJUDICES – Everyone has prejudices whether they admit to it or not. You should get to know your Principle’s prejudices so that you can pre-empt or eliminate the hazards they may cause.
PERSONAL HISTORY – This part of the profiling should note such things as medical history (allergies, current medication, level of fitness etc.). Past personal history (ex partners, family ties, have they changed their name or nationality?).
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS VIEWS – In the same way that the prejudices can cause adverse reactions in how people respond to the Principle, so will the politics and religion of the Principle. A good CPO will be aware of both and will be able to anticipate where and when problems may occur.
PRIVATE LIFE AND LIFE STYLE – Does the Principle use drugs? Does he drink excessively? Does he have a quick temper? Does he have extra marital affairs? Does he like extreme sports? Is he a target for the paparazzi? The list of questions goes on and on – but the more a CPO knows the more effectively the CPO is able to counter the hazards the Principle may be exposed to and the better the protection will be.
As part of our Close Protection course you do an advanced driving module and if successful you get a certificate from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). Once you have the certificate you can apply through RoSPA for a BTEC Award in Driving. The process is very easy. You fill out an Accreditation of Prior Achievement application form and send it with your RoSPA Advanced Driving certificate and a cheque for £95 (OK that bit is not so easy) to RoSPA. They will administer your application through to Edexcel who will provide you with a BTEC Award in Driving (Level 3). In addition to being able to prove to employers that you are a safer driver, the RoSPA certificate and BTEC Award may make your annual car insurance cheaper, some insurance companies offer discounts. Give us a call on 01267 241907 if you want to find out more.
In today’s ever changing world, security is one of the growing markets. If you are planning on going into the civilian security world, then you are probably going to end up working in some very difficult environments where the risks to you and your colleagues are high. Your own personal skill set must be relevant to the place you are working in – the threat to your life will be real! Blue Mountain Group can provide you with the relevant skills to survive in these hostile areas. Our focus is to equip you with the physical and mental skills you need to be among the best operating in these places. Today’s security industry needs quality people – our training will change your mind set and put you in that ‘quality’ category! Aside from gaining a BTEC Level 4 Professional Award in Hostile Environment Operations which will put you ahead of the crowd you will have trained with some of the best people in the industry. Courses due to start October 2013! If your new career is going to be in the world of security then you should talk to us. Give our team a call at Blue Mountain HQ (01267 241907).
Hot off the press our new courses brochure! It’s a quick, no nonsense guide to some of the training we provide. The brochure will tell you what you need to know including what you get out of the training. We are confident our training is the best, if you don’t believe us check out the video testimonial from one of our recent students at the end of the Combined Close Protection and Remote FPOSi Course. To check out the brochure, click here.
Nigel Thomas, the MD here at Blue Mountain, has finished the WOW Wales Charity Bike ride from Chepstow to Chester. It may only have been 130 mile at 7mph but he did do it on an original old butcher’s bike with no gears and slightly questionable brakes – no mean feat in 18 hours! He was met at Chester Race Course by Huw Edwards and Beth Tweddle (3 time Olympic Gymnast). He handed them the baton for the North Wales launch of Stage 2 of the Walk. The aim for the Walk on Wales is to remember and acknowledge the contribution of the 50 Welsh Guardsmen who have died on active service since the end of the Second World War and to raise £1 million pounds for the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal and Combat Stress. This is a cause very close to our hearts here at Blue Mountain – most of us are ex-service. Congratulations to Nigel and all the other riders – those that had the sense to do it on a normal bike!
Click on the title above to see what the Times thought of the bespoke Hostile Environment course we ran for Vodafone.
The Charity Dinner was a great success raising over £11,000 for local MS charities. Thanks to all those who supported the event. We are doing it all again on 28th February 2014!
Due to last minute operational commitments there is now a free slot available on our March CP course. Let us know if you want to attend. Contact Zoe or Rhian on Tel: 01267 241907.
As St David’s Day is looming we have once again collaborated with a group of colleagues to organise a charity dinner to celebrate this extremely special day and raise funds for local charities while we are at it! To date we have raised in excess of £288,000 for good causes.
Building on last year’s success we will have contributions from the world of Rugby, the SAS/SBS, a Welsh Youth Choir, Lleisiau Hardd and the hilarious comedian Harry Scott. The monies raised in 2012 have been divided between two local Multiple Sclerosis Centres. The beneficiaries are the H.O.P.E.MS Centre in Neyland which is an oxygen therapy centre designed to correct a lack of oxygen in the tissues of the body for those with multiple sclerosis www.pembrokeshire-hope.org.uk and the MS Society Cardigan Branch, who also have an oxygen therapy unit www.msoxygen.org.uk. The other beneficiary is the Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust.
The Charity Dinner will take place at 7.00 pm on Friday 8th March2013 at the Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli. The event costs £30 per person which includes a three course dinner. To book your place please contact Zoe or Rhian – on 01267 241907 or e-mail email@example.com.
On 25 August 2013, the first of 11 Walk on Wales relay teams will set off to walk the Welsh Coast Path to raise £1 million for the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal and Combat Stress. Blue Mountain is always keen to support Welsh charities; as many of the staff members at Blue Mountain are ex-service personnel themselves, a cause such as this is particularly close to our hearts. Blue Mountain will be providing logistical and other forms of general support to the event.
You can find out more about the event at www.walkonwales.org/the-walk . Walk on Wales has been designed to be fun, enjoyable and any support that you can provide them on their travels would be very much appreciated by all involved. There are a number of ways to do this: you can join the sponsored walk for a day or an entire 6-day stage or you could set up a community fundraising event to take place as the walkers make their way along the stunning Welsh Coast.
Post 911 the UK Government identified that it lacked the capability to search and access the victims of collapsed structures caused by terrorist activity. In 2002 the decision was made to develop that capability, nationally, within the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) due to prior experience deploying to earthquake zones. 19 FRS in the UK now provide the country with a USAR capability with one team in Wales split between two sites in Cardiff and Swansea. Although primarily established to respond to domestic terrorist incidents, the equipment and highly trained USAR technicians also respond to complex incidents where specialist teams are required e.g. the Gleision Mine incident in 2011.
The USAR Team are Rescue Specialists in:
These are specialist skills, highly valued by the UK Government and utilised for international incidents. The USAR team morph into UK-ISAR (UK International Search & Rescue) on behalf of the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) and deploy primarily to countries stricken by earthquakes. Recent deployments include Indonesia, Haiti, New Zealand and Japan. The team need FPOS training and have chosen Blue Mountain as their training provider. We look forward to welcoming them back in March.
Zoe Woodruff is the newest addition to the Blue Mountain team joining us with her Maritime background in shipping business, previously working for an International Shipping Company in their European Head office in London.
We are currently designing an Executive and Hostile Environment Close Protection Course. The idea behind the course is to provide core competencies for working in the Close Protection industry for both executive and hostile environments, ensuring that students gain invaluable knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications to begin their career in the wider Close Protection industry. Combining the executive SIA approved and hostile environment training is not only cost effective to the student but provides them with all the subject knowledge for a vast array of deployments and environments encountered in today’s turbulent world.
To make the learning progressive, we plan to split the course into 4 modular sections for a more effective learning experience, these are:
First Person on Scene Intermediate (FPOS I)
Level 2 in Physical Intervention Skills for the Private Security Industry
BTEC Level 3 in Close Protection
BTEC Level 4 Professional Award in Hostile Environment Operations
With an ex Regimental Admin Officer (RAO) now on board we can offer sound advice in relation to resettlement and ELCAS funding. You need to know that the training company you choose is right for you and meets your aspirations. Not all security training companies are the same! We are not into the hard sell, being mostly ex-military ourselves this is not an approach we are comfortable with. Give us a call if you want to find out more about what we do and who we are.
Just completed yet another very popular FPOS I course with brilliant student feedback. Apologies to those who didn’t get on the course; we look forward to seeing you later on in the year!
We have just been an exhibitor at the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) Training Fair at Kempton Park Racecourse. It gave us a brilliant opportunity to meet service leavers, it was great to be able to offer advice and guidance to a number of individuals not yet decided on their chosen career path as well as others who were way down the road of forging out a new career in the private security sector. A very positive day for us and hopefully for those we met too!.
Blue Mountain sign contracts with a major oil & gas supplier plus two major car manufacturers to provide security training, investigations and hostile environment evacuation expertise.
Blue Mountain is very pleased to announce that we have been awarded Preferred Supplier Status from the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), enabling us to provide our specialist resettlement training courses to military service leavers.
This coupled with our ELCAS registration improves access for military service leavers to first class training with Blue Mountain enabling them to gain accredited and highly sought after civilian qualifications with a view to a successful career within the security industry. October 2012
Rhian Worrell joins our growing team, to help market our courses to military personnel. Rhian, who was a major in the British Army until 2010, will help promote our expanding portfolio of specialist training courses to the armed forces.
As we enter 2017, housing bubbles are showing signs of bursting all over the world. I know I’ve been promising I would lay out the economic headwinds for 2017, but 2017’s headwinds are building so fast and furious that I’m having to break that promised article out into several articles, as I’m accumulating material faster than I have time to cover.
I’m going to start with the housing bubbles that are now extremely evident in the US, Canada and Australia, noting that housing is also insane in its own weird way in China again and in many other parts of the world. The point I want to make is that, with housing bubbles now at the peak of popping in several parts of the world, this coming housing market collapse could make the US housing market crash of 2007-2009 look like the warm-up act, and housing is just one area of the global economy that is showing signs of high peril.
As I wrote in “The Inevitability of Economic Collapse,” the whole US economy is a house of cards, but particularly the US housing economy where we have done everything we possibly can to pile up a potential housing collapse as precariously as we did last time around just so we can watch it all fall down again.
The hard push to get back to where we were in 2006 has been on for about seven years. In the past few months, housing has been on its fastest tear in the US with the number of new permits being issued for construction in 2017 particularly leaping up like a spring lamb, and that’s with prices that are now generally higher than they were at their peak in 2006. We are showing all the same evidence of an irrational market that we showed going into the Great Recession:
That peak was only attained because of lax credit, which made an expanding number of purchases possible after prices went beyond what people could afford. Since wages in real terms (having only recently started to rise in a few industries) are not any better than they were back in the housing crash of ’07-’09 , today’s higher prices are actually less sustainable without dangerously lax loan terms than they were back then.
That’s why we have again begun to relax loan terms for individuals buying a house. For the last eleven quarters, more lenders have relaxed mortgage standards than have tightened them. (“Minimum credit scores have dropped. Self-employment documentation has reduced. Maximum loan-to-values have been increased.”) On top of what banks are doing to relax their own self-imposed standards, Trump has ordered a review of Dodd-Frank with the hope of stripping it back in order to get banks to issue more loans in order to juice the economy (and to make things better for his real estate industry). We learn nothing.
Cohn said Friday on Fox Business that the executive orders are intended to relieve restrictions and scrutiny that post-crisis regulations have put on banks…. Trump promised to do “a big number” on the Dodd-Frank Act. (Bloomberg)
What could be better than a return to the exuberant days of banking deregulation? A Republican article of faith says that banks and the economy can always benefit from further deregulation. Dodd-Frank will be stripped down before it fully goes into practice. The unstated goal here is to fatten up some more bankers and further inflate the housing bubble because we are so incapable of thinking outside of a housing-based economic model.
The fact is that bank loans to businesses have never been higher (in total value of loans issued), so there is no problem, as Trump claims there is, of banks not issuing enough loans to businesses. The value of bank loans issued was not even this high just before the Great Recession. Likewise, the total value of bank loans for commercial real estate has never been anywhere near as high as it is right now. So, most likely those who are not being given loans (like perhaps the King of Bankruptcy) probably don’t deserve them.
For now, the race to the top in housing is still on, but there are signs that a peak is being reached. I’ referring to signs other than just the fact that we’ve passed the previous peak’s prices. January purchases of existing homes picked up to a pace not seen since 2007. The number of new-home sales jumped 3.7% in one month (in terms of number of units sold). That is in spite of the fact that the median price of a US home has risen 7.1% since the same time last year.
One caveat about this rise (until we see where it goes in the next couple of months) is that some of this activity since December’s rate hike may be due to people rushing to buy before interest rates rise even more, now that rate increases by the Federal Reserve are looking certain.
With houses in the US now remaining on the market for only fifty days, averaged across the nation (less than a month on the west coast), the market is feeling as searingly hot as it did in 2006 just before prices started to fall. So, that’s one indicator a top may be near.
Because of a shortage of inventory (the lowest number of houses on the market since 1999), bidding wars are starting again in cities like Seattle and San Francisco where houses again regularly sell for more than their list price. That kind of bubbling-over race to higher prices ran for a few years in the highest-priced markets before the last housing crash, but it is the kind of frenzy that defines “irrational exuberance” in a housing market. When people scurry to say, “I want to pay you more than you’re asking for” in a market already priced higher than ever before, you’re witnessing the kind of mania that precedes a crash. So, that’s another indicator that a top may be near.
One more kind of action that has risen back to pre-Great-Recession levels is house flipping. Foreclosures are being snapped up by mom-and-pop fixer-uppers at a level matching the superheated speculation of the last housing bubble.
Some US housing bubbles appear to be popping already. Prices on expensive homes in some places, such as Miami, are now falling quickly. Since early 2016, condo speculators in Miami (who buy condos pre-construction, hoping to sell them for a better price as soon as they are completed) have been pummeled into accepting losses. Inventory is growing in Miami; sales volume is shrinking; and total volume of sales in dollars is declining.
Same kind thing is happening in Manhattan where luxury co-op apartment contracts have collapsed 25%. Closings on high-end sales in Manhattan (number of units sold) had fallen 18.6% year on year back in October. Inventory of units in new developments was backed up at that point an additional 27.2% YoY.
Barry Sternlich, CEO of the Starwood Property Trust, which finances real estate development, calls Manhattan’s luxury condo situation “a catastrophe” that “will get worse.” Since homes in this segment of the market are typically bought by those people who make a lot of money by working on Wall Street, one has to wonder what this says about the real situation in the world of stocks and finance.
From 2017 on, the US housing market will face different kind of bubble bust than it has ever faced before. The baby-boom bubble is now moving out of the housing market. For the next two decades, the fastest rising segment of the population will be those who are seventy or more years old, while those who range from twenty to sixty nine (where homes are still being bought) will shrink in total numbers.
Seventy-plussers, whose total population is projected to quadruple during that time, buy the lowest number of homes of any age group (only about seven percent of the market). Not only do they have less need of a new home, there aren’t many banks that want to issue a thirty-year mortgage to someone who will be a hundred years old by the house it gets paid off. So, ask yourself who is going to buy up all the houses that the baby boomers evacuate when they move into retirement facilities? (The growth in nursing facilities, may keep construction going, but it isn’t going to help banks with huge numbers of home loans on their books, and boomers trying to sell in that market will be hurt badly by falling values, making it also hard to buy into retirement facilities.)
It seems counter-intuitive that a real-estate development tycoon would cause a housing bubble collapse, as there is nothing he would hate more, but consider the following:
While high-priced homes (prices and numbers of sales) are already starting to slide in some major metropolitan areas, Trump’s immigration restrictions are likely to impact the lower and mid segments of the housing market, pushing them over the cliff, too — particularly the multiple-family housing market and to some extent single-family housing. (I’m for many of his immigration reforms, but the math doesn’t care how you feel about immigration. Math is math.)
The secondary reason — second only to having a cheap-labor pool — that businesses and government want as much immigration as possible is that high immigration forces expansion of our housing-based economy. And housing expansion seems to be the only sure way of growing an economy we know about — sure, that is, until it isn’t.
Housing markets with the highest risk of an immigration-based collapse in 2017 include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Silicon Valley and New York, which have the largest populations of foreign renters and buyers. Since some of those areas are already hurting on the top end of the market, they are going to really feel the squeeze.
Consider a simple reality of the deportation threat: even those who are not deported are likely to back off from their purchasing plans. More will stay for now with renting in fear that they may be deported. Overnight, millions of people are becoming reluctant to enter long-term residential plans.
Not only do millions of families deported mean a loss in demand; they also mean millions of homes and apartments going on the market. It’s a price hit from both demand and supply sides of the market at the same time. In the old days, that was a recipe for a ghost town where people simply walked away.
The possibility of deportation also makes lenders nervous and less willing to make loans to undocumented immigrants. (Some lenders actually specialize in making mortgages to “undocumented immigrants.”) For the bank’s view, people leaving the market and selling their homes in large numbers means oversupply, which predicts falling prices, which predicts mortgages going underwater. If those underwater mortgages are adjustable-rate mortgages they cannot be refinanced when the interest increase comes. So, defaults will rise for immigration reasons just as housing prices are exceeding the peek they hit before the last major housing crisis. Smart bankers are getting nervous, but that means loan tightening will exacerbate the problem.
Then you have to factor in the millions of immigrants who won’t be coming even if deportation doesn’t happen quickly. That influx is already down because people know the risk of deportation is far more likely under Trump than it was under Obama. (Obama practically advertised for illegal immigration by letting the world know that children would not be deported, which translated to “send them quickly while you can get them in and can know they will be allowed to stay.”)
The factor here is that a third of the real-estate industry’s estimated new growth is based on new immigrants adding to demand. Whether they live in apartments, houses or condos doesn’t matter. All of that is new construction for a planned influx of new people who are no longer coming. That is going to start taking some plans off the table. Many of those permits that have been applied for may never be exercised.
While Trump’s massive immigration changes (and the fears caused by the knowledge that change is coming) are likely to effect the lower end of the market the most, they will effect mid levels as well. Immigrants with specialized skills, who are here with green cards to do specialized jobs, are becoming more skittish, too, being uncertain of how Trump’s immigration plans will effect them. Even some green-card holders who are already far along in the process of getting citizenship legally are becoming apprehensive about purchasing a home because they are concerned that the immigration issue could become more aggressive.
So, we have a rather large trigger that is already moving, which could cause a 2017 housing bubble c0llapse.
From Miami, Florida, to Vancouver, B.C., housing is tumbling at the top. Vancouver’s housing market decapitation is partially intentional, created in part by a 15% foreign-investment tax that the city started at the end of summer in 2016. They implemented the tax because prices at the top were going insane due to Chinese investors, and that was pricing Canadians out of their own market; but that pushes somewhat wealthy Canadians down to high mid-level homes, raising prices there, which pushes mid-level buyers down and so forth.
The 15% tax hits mansions the most because that is where foreign money was percolating prices into the stratosphere (due to Chinese investors looking for ways to store their wealth outside of badly failing China). However, the price drop in top-tier housing is not entirely due to the foreign-investor tax because sales started to fall sharply (by about half the number of units sold in a month, year on year) for two months before the new tax was voted into place. (Maybe just in anticipation?) In fact, the average home price in Vancouver has fallen almost every month since March, 2016, though most of the deflation has been at the top. (So, maybe a top is in anyway.)
At the same time, the number of empty houses (including derelict mansions) in the greater Vancouver area had more than doubled from what it was back in 2001 even though prices since 2001 had risen 450%. So many empty houses means there is a lot of reason to believe prices will keep falling, especially now that the foreign investors are being driven away. Have incomes risen 450% to keep up with that? Don’t think so.
Because mansions in the best neighborhoods (where the median home price is about $5 million Canadian) were oddly being left unoccupied and deteriorating, Vancouver also imposed a one-percent surcharge on property taxes for houses that are not primary residences or are not rented out for half of the year in hopes of getting people to do something with those home in order to thin out the decay.
(The result of all this has been to push Chinese investment down to Seattle, Washington, causing the high-end home market along the US west coast to improve.)
Toronto, Canada, is as much a bubble as Vancouver. Doug Porter, the chief economist for the Bank of Montreal, told investors this past week, “Let’s drop the pretense. The Toronto housing market and the many cities surrounding it are in a housing bubble.”
Prices in that region have risen an average of 22% in just the last year. This is the fastest increase since the late eighties, which almost everyone in Canada will agree was another bubble, and it comes on top of pervious years of double-digit gains.
This is insanely bubblicious activity. Did incomes rise 22% last year? Do the math: When the cost of housing rises 22% in one year, and wages rise 2% and when the 22% is on a starting number that is maybe four times higher than the average annual wage that only rose 2%, clearly there is no more room for housing prices to rise … other than by foreign investment (now being curtailed) or further relaxation of credit terms. (Lest you think the latter is a realistic possibility, think how much you’d have to slacken credit terms in just one year to make the next year’s mortgages affordable.)
Australia appears to be trying to push its bubble higher in all the same ways the US tried leading into the Great Recession. Why? Because the Australian housing bubble is coming to an end, and what one does when that happens is loosen the strings on the net to cast a wider net. Thus, one member of parliament is now asking for banks to start giving zer0-downpayment loans. Been there, done that in the US; and the housing market collapse came shortly after.
When you have nothing down and little to lose, you walk away from your loan quite easily if housing prices fall. So, the end of the bubble comes surprisingly fast at the point.
The Australian housing bubble percolated along nicely all the way through 2016 with housing prices in Sydney and Melbourne rising fifteen and thirteen percent respectively in one year. Canberra and Hobart saw about 10% growth in prices. In Brisbane, however, where construction was soaring, growth has almost stalled. Vacancy rates have now doubled. Project approvals are dropping, so construction will begin to go down. Perth was the first major city to shift into reverse as it saw property prices slide downhill four percent last year. Smaller cities where the big money was coming from mining of resources sold to China are seeing even faster declines. They are not ghost towns, but it is the same dynamic.
One of the things the US experienced in its infamous housing bubble collapse was a lot of dishonesty in the loan approval process and the loan repackaging process that became necessary to expand the net after all possibilities of legally relaxing standards were exhausted. Now Australia is in the same place:
UBS Securities Australia reported today that about 28% of Australian mortgages issued in 2015 and 2016 are what we in the US have come to call “liar loans,” which played a big role in the housing boom and the collapse and subsequent bailout of the global financial system.
The last phase of a housing bubble needs liar loans to keep going because buyers have to reach beyond their limits, and the only way to do this is lie now, or miss out forever on buying a house to live in or get rich with quick as investor…. US-style mortgage fraud would be a “Nuclear Bomb” to Australia’s banks. (Wolf Street)
Much of this fraud has come from Chinese investors who falsely stated their income. With the Chinese running double books in China as well-known standard operating procedure, who would have thought they might have provided false data to Ausie banks? Increasingly, Australian banks are afraid to lend to them, so Chinese investment is falling off sharply.
Shanghai-based financiers claim their Chinese clients’ funding from Australian banks has been frozen and they face foreclosure – or usurious interest rates – from private financiers…. “All the deals have been frozen,” said Mark Yin, an agent with Shanghai-based Home Tree Group, about his Shanghai clients’ funding with Australian banks. “We are now looking for finance all over the world….” Billions of dollars has been invested in tens-of-thousands of high-rise apartments that are reshaping the skylines of the nation’s major capitals, particularly Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Most have been sold off-the-plan, which means purchasers buy off the blueprint with a deposit and complete when it is built, which requires a second valuation and financing commitment by the lender…. Lenders, which initially fell over themselves to finance overseas’ buyers, slammed on the breaks when spot checks on the loan applications detected widespread fraud. The main problem is mainland Chinese buyers, which account for about half of the deals. That means many local lenders that agreed to provide funding when buyers made deposits, will not recommit upon completion. Nervous local lenders fear that a sharp downturn, or change of sentiment, could result in foreclosures with overseas borrowers they have little chance of locating. (Financial Review)
According to UBS, misrepresentation is systemic, and according to The Guardian, the housing bubble in some parts of Australia is “ready to hit the skids.” With things falling apart, the Reserve Bank of Australia started trying to make Donald Trump the scapegoat for the failure of its own cheap-money policies … before he was even inaugurated. (Don’t they have their own notoriously irascible PM they could blame?)
Trump’s policies may be inflationary, they whine. Wasn’t Australia’s central bank, like the rest of the civilized world, trying for the past several years to create a little inflation? Now their failures are because Trump is creating inflation?
The problem is that Trump’s talk of infrasture spending raised bond rates in Australia, too, which bleeds into mortgage rates. Interest rates are now rising outside the central bank’s control, just as they are here in the US, sending housing expansion into reverse. Market forces are wresting control over interest from central banks, so CB decisions to raise target rates at this point don’t amount to much more than catching up in order to maintain the illusion that they are still in control.
UBS also ranks Sydney as the fourth-most likely city in the world to experience the implosion of a housing bubble. (Vancouver tops the list.) Property prices there have grown almost fifty percent since 2012, while wages have stagnated. That assures it is a credit-fueled housing bubble, not a rise born of spreading prosperity.
How bad is it?
This Sydney house with its tiny sliver of land in a residential neighborhood sold for nearly $1 million in 2014.
Jonathan Tepper — a US hedge-fund consultant who predicted the mortgage crises in the US, Spain and Ireland — claimed Sydney’s housing bubble was ready to burst in 2016 with a correction that could be as much as a fifty percent plunge. Stated Tepper, “Australia now has one of the biggest housing bubbles in history.” Was he wrong entirely about an Australian housing bubble crash or just a little premature on the timing?
Some developers (with their own interests to promote) say Sydney cannot crash because Australia’s population is still growing rapidly and will for another twenty year, but Sydney could still crash if the rise in values has more to do with years of speculation than with population growth, as rental rates would indicate. Prices will revert to what people can actually afford when speculation can’t go higher.
We know what happens as soon as speculative housing bubbles stop rising because they can’t find enough qualified fools (or enough cheap credit). Like all Ponzi schemes, the game is over immediately upon reaching the last tier of willing or able players. Where wages have stagnated for years, that happens as soon a speculators can no longer count on a profiting from reselling to other anxious speculators.
Higher interest disqualifies more participants. As in the US, Australian households are again already struggling under a huge debt load of $2 trillion Ausie bucks. That means a little rise in interest should shut the game down pretty quickly. That crane count over the skyline of Australian cities, which has outnumbered major cities in the US and UK, may start to look a little derelict in the years ahead, as rusting cables sway in the wind over half-finished, vacant monuments.
Stop! Don’t worry about that scenario right now. Individual banks in Australia have found a way to keep the investor pool growing even as central-bank cheap money has topped out — mortgage fraud. According to a report last spring, which was tabled by the Australian senate, many banks are falsifying applicant information in order to make applicants look more capable of paying than they really are. So, Australia is not just experience mortgage fraud from applicants, but also mortgage fraud from the banks making the loans.
You have to appreciate how much the Ausies learned from the United States’ play book where many banks in Florida ran the same game in the run-up to the Great Recession. Australia should be safe, though, because, according to the report, this is happening “with the full knowledge of Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the Reserve Bank of Australia.” (One has to wonder why they became so concerned about Chinese falsification, when others are going out of their way to create false applications; but such is the bizarre world of housing bubbles, especially when they reach their popping point and things get desperate.)
Philip Lowe, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s governor, tried last fall to blame skyrocketing home prices on a shortage of houses, rather than on the loosey-goosey interest rates of the national bank. Sorry, Pip, but if that were the case, rents would have risen parallel with housing prices; but rents have barely nudged upward for years. If there is a shortage of inventory, it’s only because you’re in a feeding frenzy of flippers, not because people can’t find enough shelter. It’s a speculative bubble, with everyone snapping up anything that flashes in the pond. Bite first, decide if its food-worthy later.
The last person we would expect to understand housing bubbles is a banker. Stay with the bubbles in your champagne flute, Phil. They’re the only ones you’re familiar with. The real problem is that years of cheap loans have enticed your people to amass the highest levels of household debt in the world! Do I hear a flush coming? But, hey, at least the RBA has set aside $300 billion dollars for its next bailout. So, you’re good, Australia … until round two. All bets are on the house in this casino.
Even ol’ Pip recognizes that one of the major reasons governments want immigrants is to keep pumping up the housing bubble. Lowe stooped to his name’s own level when he lamented last week that “the insidious” resentment that Ausies have toward immigrants, such resentment being caused by the overcrowding of Australia’s major cities. This could doom the land down under’s housing-based economy if people there start rejecting a major source of demand as is happening in the US. You see, the eternal expansion of overpopulation is essential when the only way to grow a housing economy is to grow population.
The solution, according to Lowe, is for the government to build more transportation infrastructure so the influx of people can spread out more. (Hmm, you mean take out more bonds, which will cause interest rates to rise just as happened because of Trump’s infrastructure plans? I guess Lowe likes the idea if it happens in Australia, just not when it happens to Australia.)
Hopefully, someday Australia will be one big city from coast to coast. Then they can start building islands (think how much infrastructure spending that will cause) to house more people in order to keep that real-estate-driven economy ever on the rise. (I ask the question, “Why do economies need to grow? What’s wrong with just sustaining nicely? Well, of course, they need to grow so that people can get filthy rich.)
How long can the game go on? According to The Sydney Morning Herald,
The forecasters are now saying 2017 will be the year that the housing headwinds could get stronger.
But The Herald also states that none of this points to Australia’s housing bubble bursting, but just to a little letting of the air out of the market. Ah, the perfect world where the air hisses out like a lazy snake. The problem with Ponzi schemes, though, is that as soon as the air starts coming out, the snake bites, and the whole scheme collapses. In housing that plays out as flippers stopping their investment because they get scary-close to not making money anymore. Some even start to lose money. Demand plunges as soon as the flippers stop flipping, so housing prices fall. That means mortgages go underwater.
All of that becomes a catastrophe when a nation has issued a huge number of variable-interest loans — as Australia has. When interest rise just as housing prices go down, owners cannot sell their way out of trouble as an escape hatch if they got in over their heads. The only way out is default.
Even worse are interest-only loans where speculators qualify for much more than they can actually pay for with loans that require interest payments only until a set date when a balloon payment is due. The flipper plans to sell the house into a rising market and see a big profit before that impossible event hits. The home owner who plans to stay counts on being able to refi at a more attractive interest rate once he or she has built up equity due to rising values. If they can’t? Australia has half a trillion dollars worth of these loans outstanding, comprising more than fifty percent of residential term loans.
Prices could just settle out if this wasn’t a speculative bubble of people buying and selling homes to make a quick buck in a rising market. But when prices have reached lofty heights largely because of rampant speculation, housing is likely to slide off a cliff when speculation stops and prices revert to what people can actually afford without all the baloney that pumped up the market.
The countries I’ve covered here are no different than many others. I could as easily write about the UK housing bubble, which began to unwind last year. Barclay’s is now offering 100% loan-to-value mortgages — an obvious latch-ditch kind of effort to prop things along to anyone who has seen these things fall apart in the past. As with Vancouver, Manhattan, and Miami, London’s pricier neighborhoods have seen a decline of ten percent in value in the past year.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said at the start of this year that it now sees dangerous property bubbles in several of the world’s largest economies that risk a “massive” price collapse. It notes that New Zealand and Sweden are perched at even more precarious heights than the UK, Australia, Canada and the US.
All of this accelerating insanity has to be a top coming in. One can hope all these bubbles deflate slowly, but our experience with major bubbles says they don’t just fade. As soon as there is no greater fool qualified to enter the market, housing balloons in the US, Canada and Australia will likely implode. Likewise, elsewhere.
We have rebuilt almost exactly the same potential panic-inducing crisis that was just starting to show in 2006; only this collapse is likely to be global … all at the same time — probably starting this year and really falling apart next as contagion moves from nation to nation.
To keep qualified investors coming into this Ponzi scheme for now, nations have reverted to relaxing credit standards and the US back to deregulating banks because that’s the only way to expand to the next larger tier of fools. Same old story as last time. We’re doing this because we are so addicted to the idea of a housing-based economy as the only way to go that we bullheadedly keep thinking it has no top limit to its expansion.
We do this even though we have already experienced how quickly things go bad — very bad — when you reduce mortgage standards so much in order to rope the final round of people in. People go mad in herds, but only recover their senses one at a time, while voices of sanity pretty much talk to themselves.
For right now, the stampede in stocks and housing is still on; so don’t worry: a collapse is nowhere in site. We are no closer to a meltdown in either market than Fukushima was after a thousand earthquakes and a tsunami. If you don’t believe me, ask a banker.
Oops.About David Haggith
Please see the "About " page for this site.February 26, 2017 @ 2:04 pm Economic Predictions, Uncategorized economic predictions, housing bubble, housing market collapse, the great recession
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