Kidnap is a complex threat which can affect organisations and individuals globally. It is a cruel crime, not only for the victim, but also for the family members. Many victims and families continue to struggle with the psychological consequences long after their release. Employers may be sued by victims or Next of Kin and cases may raise unwanted interest from media outlets. It is a scenario that demands swift intervention which can often determine the successful release of kidnap victims, along with limiting the detriment kidnap and ransom can cause to both individuals and organisations.
The main people at risk of becoming kidnapping victims abroad are local employees and their families, expatriates and business travellers. Furthermore for high net worth individuals the perpetrators often focus on minors.
According to studies, the chance of survival is around 90%. While the negotiation path always will be the safest, a successful release is driven by skilful negotiations. Our team of professional kidnap response consultants will support your effort to facilitate a safe release of your employees or loved ones.
Our highly trained response team are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide trusted guidance and ensure the crisis is managed with a steady hand in an extremely volatile situation.
With access to experienced crisis consultants in more than 20 countries we have the reach, experience, cultural awareness and language capabilities to support our clients wherever the incident occurs. Our consultants have a dedicated background with law enforcement agencies, governmental and/or crisis negotiation teams and are recognised with special risks insurance companies.
In addition to this we have close partnerships with key specialists:
Psychologists and care specialists
Profilers and investigators
Crisis communication specialists
Medical and security providers
IT forensics providers
Our 24/7 Ops centre is the client’s first point of contact. In a response case, our analysts can immediately provide vital information to the victim’s organisation and our response consultants. This includes researching details about the incident, possible perpetrators and details about past kidnaps in the region and setting up media monitoring. The Ops centre organises the deployment of the response. The Ops centre organises also the activation of local security providers if that is required. During the whole response case the response consultants can use 24/7 the analytical capabilities within the ops centre.
Depending on the type of incident we can deploy response consultants to the client’s crisis management team and to the country where the incident has taken place.
In the event of a kidnapping the goal of professional crisis response consultants is to secure the release of your employee as quickly and unharmed as possible through negotiations – usually against payment of a reasonable ransom.
It is vital to instruct an experienced and highly skilled ransom response team when dealing with a complex situation such as kidnap, with the actions taken within the first few hours having a great influence on the outcome. An SOS can be raised through our platform Solace Secure or by calling our 24/7 emergency response line.
When families first become aware of a kidnap, situation decisions can often be driven by emotion and made with haste, which may not always be the best approach, particularly if large amount of ransom monies are paid too quickly. This can prolong the kidnapping further if the perpetrators sense there may be more money to extort or highlight you to be an attractive target for future kidnappings.
For organisations it is important to choose a qualified and experienced crisis response team, as this will be assessed and can leave the employer at risk if the victim believes the crisis management was unprofessional, or lasted a disproportionate length of time compared to similar kidnap cases.
In additional to an employers moral responsibility to protect employee’s while abroad, there is a heightened legal obligation to employees which is attached to kidnap for ransom cases. Both larger organisations and mid-sized companies operating globally should be conscious of the risks posed to travelling employees, with many high profile cases highlighting the necessity for a prepared and measured response to kidnapping.
Duty of care can be divided into 4 key areas
A classical kidnapping lasts from days to months or years. Most often the motive is financial. However, political and other motives are also possible. Kidnappings are committed by individual criminals, organised crime groups, tribes and terrorist organisations or even state actors.
Maritime piracy (also known as hijacking) is the abduction and/or hostage-taking of a ship’s crew, with cases often seen in the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea.
Express kidnapping is a short-term kidnapping, which usually only lasts a few hours. The perpetrator uses the credit card owner’s PIN to withdraw money from ATMs until the limit is reached. The victim is then usually released.
Virtual kidnapping is in fact not a kidnapping, but fraud, in which a kidnapping is simulated. The perpetrators use cunning tricks to create or exploit situations in which the victim cannot be reached by telephone or can only communicate to a very limited extent. They call the employer or the family and give the impression that they have kidnapped the employee or family member.
Other related types of kidnapping
In a hostage taking (barricaded situation), however, the perpetrator and victim are together in a known place. Unlawful detention or pretence for arrest is also considered another type of kidnapping. There are also staged kidnappings in which the “victim” plays a part or a kidnapping for the purpose of murder or to cover up another crime.
The risk of kidnap fluctuates depending on where your team are located. The majority of kidnapping victims are often locals or local employees of companies due to little or no measures to protect them, thus becoming easier to kidnap, however employees of corporate organisations, NGO’s and high net worth individuals can be seen as an attractive target to kidnap.
Negligible Risk |There is almost no threat of kidnapping. Only for very wealthy individuals general precautions against kidnapping for ransom are recommended. Express kidnapping or virtual kidnapping are extremely rare.
Low Risk | There are few known abduction threats. Specific precautions regarding kidnapping for ransom are recommended only for very wealthy individuals. Express kidnapping or virtual kidnapping may occasionally pose a danger to travellers and expats.
Moderate Risk |There is a threat of kidnapping at least in some parts of the country. Precautions and situational awareness are recommended.
High Risk | There is a significant kidnapping threat in at least parts of the country. Particular vigilance, planning of the visit or stay and more elaborated protective measures are recommended.
Severe Risk | The kidnapping threat is very high nationwide. Very detailed security planning and wide-ranging protective measures are required.
Often taking the correct steps to prevent kidnap is the best course of action to avoid a crisis, we offer a full scope of risk management services to help protect your workforce.
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