A new year is upon us, it’s a time of excitement, of making plans, and re-establishing focus. At UMBRA International our mission to make a Secure Lifestyle accessible for all is still a firm focus. Restarting our schedules and goals afresh, now is a good time to firm up our plan for what a secure lifestyle looks like for us and to make sure we are armed to the best effect with the knowledge to keep ourselves safe.
To assist you we put together a Q&A session featuring Aran Dharmeratnam, a specialist in personal safety.
With a background in Law and Criminology, Aran has spent many years working in different areas of security and has extensive experience in different forms of personal safety training. Aran works with companies, high-profile figures, and young people going on travel trips. He conducts UMBRA’s urban safety courses.
Firstly, it is good to go out with a group of friends as they can all look out for each other. In any nightlife situation, you have the journey to and from the venue. This is where route selection and modes of transport are key, particularly when leaving a venue after drinking. This is the time when predatory aggressors, drunk opportunists, or thieves may try to target their victims. Inside the venue, one has to be aware of bags, phones, and other valuables, as thieves use this time to discreetly extract bags from around tables and chairs. They have a host of tricks that they use, which we explore in our urban awareness courses.
The other big threat that we address in our courses is drink-spiking and how to disengage from unwanted attention from third parties.
The key in this situation is that if you are worried, don’t be afraid to call for help. You can call the police, and you may also you may need the help of people around you, but obviously you must select carefully who you reach out to. Kate Bright, UMBRA’s CEO and I recently carried out training for a top concierge company for their female employees, and this is something we addressed in more detail, looking at how to maintain distance and how to change routes, as well as what to do if someone closes in.
It is always uncomfortable when someone tries to invade our space. The first thing we must address is the pre-grab phase. if someone is coming into our space, is there a way to create space earlier? Then there is dealing with the phase where they close in, where avoidance has not worked. It can happen. With different training disciplines, they can produce good fighters and some effective tactics, but the key is not to get into a fight or cause the situation to escalate. Diffusing and disengaging are the keys. Also, with any thorough approach to personal safety, it’s important to look at the psychological factors, fear management, and dealing with grabs and holds so you can escape. This can be explored more in training sessions.
Areas addressed include the different types of awareness, threat recognition, and familiarisation with the tactics of the different street criminals. We then look at strategies for avoiding and disengaging. In some cases, if there is a requirement to cover the more physical aspects, this can also be shared, such as escaping specific grabs or evading strikes. We also look at ways of handling verbal conflict and ways to relax and keep calm under pressure. It is useful for any team in a fast-paced work environment.
Initially, we would suggest an informal chat with the team to understand exactly which areas are the most useful for you, your team, or your family members. We have done courses for groups ranging from 5 to 30 people. Usually, somewhere in the middle of that number works best.
For more information and to be connected with our Head of Physical Security, please get in touch.
From all at UMBRA International, we wish you a safe and secure start to the new year!
Written by Aran Dharmeratnam and Kim Garrett.