There are many different aspects to understanding the security chauffeur’s role. Chauffeurs have been around as far back as the late 1800s employed to drive the wealthy owners of the early motor car.
Still today you can see chauffeurs that are employed within wealthy households as permanent members of staff. The chauffeur’s duties would consist of driving their employers and their families to and from their residence and/or place of work during business and leisure. Maintenance of the vehicle was also undertaken by the chauffeur, understanding how the motor vehicle operates was imperative as too was the cleanliness of the vehicle.
It is still a statement of wealth to employ a personal chauffeur. Still, more so nowadays the services of a private chauffeur are employed as a matter of convenience so that the busy executive can continue their work in the vehicle whilst on route to and from business meetings etc.
Step forward a century, and you will still witness many chauffeurs, especially in the cities, maybe not wearing a peaked cap and starting the vehicle by hand crank these days. Still, they are certainly there with more advanced vehicles and often with additional skills such a security driver training and security awareness.
What is a “Security Chauffeur”?
Over the years with the increase of crime, vehicle crime and the evermore luxurious vehicles, the chauffeur’s role has evolved with them often doubling up as security for the employer or working hand in hand with close protection teams or personal bodyguards.
All Close protection operatives (CPOs) should be competent drivers and hold a driving licence. And it is here where the security chauffeur should standout amongst regular drivers and chauffeurs. Unfortunately, many close protection operatives believe that a driving licence is not necessary which is aided by the fact that the UK’s private security regulator, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) do not stipulate that a driving licence is required when applying to become a licensed bodyguard in the UK. It is down to the potential employer or client to ensure that their close protection operatives hold a driving license and other relevant training and qualifications.
A security chauffeur will often have a chauffeuring background. Often the security chauffeur will have started his career as a taxi driver or family chauffeur then slowly increase their skill set by acquiring close protection training or further enhancing their driving skills such evasive and defensive techniques by attending an advanced driving course.
By acquiring the soft, smooth driving skills of a chauffeur and combining them with close protection training plus defensive and evasive driving skills, ensures that the driver is fully competent at preserving the safety and life of the passengers within the motor vehicle during a potential RTC (road traffic collision) or a hostile attack on the passengers (ambush, carjacking etc.). But also, the safety and lives of other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorbike riders.
Considerations should be made as to the perceived level of threat associated with the passengers (the principals), for example, a PSD (personal security detail) in Afghanistan would expect their security driver to be up to speed with the handling of an armoured 4 x 4. It would not consider ‘smooth driving’ a necessity but for them to be able to perform defensive driving techniques and tactics to avoid danger and offensive driving to escape an attack by ramming or evading a roadblock or ambush, would be very high on their list of driver skills.
Whereas a security chauffeur assigned to an executive would be expected to drive smoothly and have the knowledge to detect hostile surveillance and perform anti-surveillance driving techniques without alerting or alarming their passengers to confirm and lose the tail. They should also do their best to avoid vulnerable choke points where an attack might be launched. This is often difficult in traffic, so the security chauffeur needs to be completely aware of their surroundings and have a secondary escape route in mind at all times.
That is the difference between a security chauffeur and security driver. The security chauffeur provides a covert security presence driving smoothly and discreetly. The security driver is more overt with their techniques and tactics concentrating purely on safety and security rather than comfort, often in hostile high-risk areas or assignments.
However, a security chauffeur and security driver can and do work together with the chauffeur driving the VIP or Principal vehicle smoothly and safely. The security driver following behind in the chase or security vehicle providing cover and space for the VIP vehicle utilising their convoy driver training skills to stay together as one unit.
The security vehicle is usually a large and heavy 4 x 4 that provides the following close protection detail with a better view over and around the VIP vehicle, it is this vehicle that would be used to physically defend the VIP vehicle from a hostile vehicle intent on colliding with the VIP vehicle, and due to its size and weight it would also be used to ram other vehicles out of the way to plough an escape route should an attack happen. This is extremely unlikely, but we must plan and train for the worst-case scenario.
Depending on the Principal, the threat and risks posed; one or both vehicles may also be armoured providing ballistic and blast protection. In hostile environments, the rear security vehicle would act as a shield to the VIP vehicle from any incoming gunfire, positioned to soak up the bullets allowing the VIP vehicle to escape or provide cover from fire for the security detail to return suppressing fire whilst the rest of the team extracted the Principal(s) on foot if both vehicles were disabled.
Basically, the security chauffeur should be a competent and trained advanced driver, who may have a background in the emergency services or specialist Police departments such as traffic police or Royalty and Specialist Protection (RaSP) tasked with protecting the British Royal family, the Prime Minister, MPs, and foreign dignitaries. Some ex-Military are also advanced driver trained as some regiments are required to be advanced drivers for their role and duties.
This does not rule out security drivers that have not hailed from the above-mentioned backgrounds as many competent advanced security chauffeurs have continued to improve their skill sets with continual professional development (CPD).
Additional qualifications and experience can be sought through defensive and evasive driving courses and advanced driving courses such as RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and the IAM (The Institute of Advanced Motorists) both of which offer advanced driving qualifications.
The security chauffeur must have defensive and evasive driving skills which can only be obtained from specialist security driving courses but not from RoSPA or IAM. These are purely designed to enhance your knowledge of roadcraft and confidence for safe everyday driving, not the role of security chauffeuring or driving. RoSPA or IAM training and qualification should be the basis for further specialist security driver training.
Knowledge of First Aid must also be gained. Many close protection managers will expect all team members including the drivers to be proficient at First Aid, a higher qualification such as First Person on Scene Intermediate (FPOSi) which is more advanced than the First Aid at Work (FAAW) qualification. FPOSi is a typical standard qualification sought after by CPOs and managers alike. There are other more advanced first-aid courses and qualifications.
They will also require knowledge of close protection operations or training as a close protection operative to help them understand the requirements of close protection operatives and their SOPs, who are employed to protect a principal outside of the vehicle as well as inside the vehicle. History has shown us that most attacks on those that require personal or close protection such as the wealthy, celebrities or powerful political leaders have occurred either in transit within the vehicle or approaching the vehicle (embus) or exiting the vehicle (debus).
A seasoned close protection manager or team leader (TL) will relish the fact that their driver or drivers have a close protection background or training. A driver with a CP background and advanced driver training decreases many risks associated with vehicle moves. It is comforting to the CP manager or TL knowing that a security trained driver will know what a CP team expect or need from a driver such as vehicle positioning, vehicle handling, and anti-surveillance skills, etc.
There are many risks associated with vehicle movements such as road traffic collisions (RTC), carjacking, ambush, or worse still a hostile attack resulting in injury, kidnap, or death. The requirement for a security chauffeur is often overlooked or underestimated by PAs, clients, and principals favouring the cheaper, less-skilled driver or chauffeur.
Contrary to popular belief, simply having a driving licence and an SIA Close Protection licence does not make for a competent security chauffeur.
If you employed a security chauffeur that is an advanced driver with a CP background, why do all CPOs need a driving licence too?
All CPOs ‘should have’ a contingency for every single scenario, therefore if the security chauffeur is compromised or falls ill during a vehicle move the CPO should be ready to immediately take over as the driver to ensure that the principal is driven to a safe location or continues their journey and day unhindered.
Individual bodyguards (IBGs) are also becoming increasingly popular with cost-cutting clients and companies, where a principal or client employs the services of a bodyguard to protect them and also to drive them around. Similarly, a security chauffeur to drive them and double hat as a bodyguard when they leave the vehicle. Call this role a driver bodyguard or bodyguard driver as you prefer.
This can only really be carried out if the threat and risk towards the principal are deemed low. Usually, this role is suited to executives or wealthy employers that are not recognisable in the public domain. But an understanding between the principal and the IBG must be sought to ascertain the level of threat and protection required to ensure that this type of service is suitable, as there will be opportunities for an attack where the principal is vulnerable and left unguarded, such as when the dual purpose bodyguard/driver is parking the car or bringing the car around to meet and pick up the principal.
We do not recommend this method as any adversaries, or opportunist thieves will quickly spot the principal without their personal bodyguard and use this opportunity to strike, it may also take a considerable time for the security chauffeur to find a parking space, then locate the Principal again. Likewise, in reverse, collecting the car, making their way to relocate the Principal, and picking them up. It leaves a large window of opportunity where the Principal is vulnerable and unprotected. It begs the question: why bother with security at all? If the Principal needs personal protection, it is worth doing it right and hiring a bodyguard for them.
Westminster Security provides security chauffeur services in London, throughout the UK, Europe and Worldwide.