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The New Surveillance Normal | The Cotswold Group


The New Surveillance Normal

Head of Surveillance, Chris Gloyne discusses the new landscape of surveillance operations post lockdown.

Our decision to return to surveillance activity was made based on considerable planning and risk analysis as we tracked the various government guidelines in the UK and the movement of people during the lockdown period. It was evident by mid-May that society was beginning to mobilise in England, as Covid-19 infection rates began to drop and provided the catalyst to seek a return to surveillance operations.

We have a proven track record of managing risk within the department but in this environment, our strategy involved significant adjustment to operations to protect our people, the public and the reputation of our clients. The support of our clients was crucial in the planning of our strategy to return to work along with continuous engagement at every stage of the process, which is now underway.

Image of a face mask on a desk

In June, we returned a small team of operatives to work, as we 'tested the waters' of covert investigations in England, where society had fundamentally changed and peoples awareness levels were high. In readiness, our staff embarked on a comprehensive induction process focused on their health and well being along with training in respect of enhanced risk assessments, code of conduct and the use of PPE equipment.

This was followed by driving assessments, vehicle examinations and surveillance practise drills to give them sufficient time to prepare for live operations.

Cases were selected from an existing caseload that had been held during the lockdown period and on agreed criteria based on risk, the avoidance of subjects in key worker roles and where intelligence indicated a high chance of locating and observing the subject.

Man wearing a face mask whilst shopping

With Phase 1 completed, I am firstly pleased with the performance and the approach of the team as a whole and can report that the results have exceeded my expectations. This is not 'business as usual' yet but we have met the current challenges and provided footage in 82% of operations completed in June.

The public is behaving differently, however, it is moderating as restrictions are relaxed and we continue to adapt. It should be noted that some subjects are not going to 'play by the rules' in any event, so the prevailing conditions have not been a bar to obtaining some great contradictory evidence when they least expect our presence.

Phase 2 now begins in July as we have returned more teams to work and operations recommence in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and I am confident that we will continue to deliver the evidence and insight our clients need through the monitoring of risk and adapting accordingly.