TSG offers new pathway to a career in covert surveillance
The Surveillance Group (TSG) recently announced the launch of its brand new training course and qualification, IQ Level 4 Certificate in Covert Surveillance Operations. The UK’s leading operational covert surveillance provider, TSG has a wealth of experience in the operational aspects of surveillance. Being committed to practising what it preaches, the company, unlike many training-only providers, regularly employs top candidates successfully completing its courses and, as a result, more than 95% of its operational workforce are ex-military.
TSG has been instrumental in the development of this new qualification standard for surveillance professionals, working as a key stakeholder alongside IQ and others. The IQ Level 4 Certificate in Covert Surveillance Operations is a qualification designed to develop and provide formal recognition of learners’ knowledge, understanding of and competence in surveillance techniques. Surveillance is the monitoring of behaviour, activities or other changing information, usually with regard to people, for the purpose of intelligence gathering as part of an investigation into unlawful or illegal activity, or for enforcement activities.
The qualification is aimed at those who wish to gain a recognised qualification, whether they are new to the investigative or law enforcement sectors, or have a professional background in military surveillance operations and intend to engage in continuing professional development. The skills developed in the qualification will be relevant to individuals with a military background carrying out resettlement training prior to civilian life.
Says Lee Mahoney, operational logistics manager and training lead at TSG, ‘Training is such a fundamental part of everything we do. Our fully employed teams of covert operatives are consistently cited as the best in the industry and we believe this is down to the training we give them. Unlike many providers that teach surveillance as a classroom-based exercise, our focus with our training delegates is on physical operations and ensuring that recruits can handle variable real-life situations.’
TSG has earned a reputation as a business that practises what it preaches when it comes to the application of surveillance techniques and the employment opportunities it offers to candidates taking its courses. Mahoney continues: ‘When developing the course with IQ we felt it was key to stick to our core principle of getting our delegates operationally ready. Learning theory in a classroom is all well and good, but with surveillance there are so many variables in the real world that the best way to learn is to take people through practical examples. As such we designed the qualification with this in mind; ultimately, at the end of the course, we want to have people ready to take on their first surveillance job and confident that they can apply the theory in the real world.’
One sticking point in the development of the course for TSG was the use of tracker technology − something of a sore subject in the surveillance market due to some rather high-profile incidents. Due to developments in technology and reduction in costs, the use of trackers has been increasing significantly in the private surveillance market. However, TSG has steered clear of using them, believing that, without relevant permissions and a permitted purpose, they potentially run the risk of failing to be ‘justified and proportionate’. In some applications (police investigations under RIPA, for example) the use of trackers can be compliantly carried out and, for this reason, TSG successfully lobbied with IQ and the other key stakeholders for the tracking module included to be non-mandatory.
On the subject of the use of tracker technology Jeremy Ward, director of operations at TSG, adds: ‘In more than 20 years of operations, TSG has never felt the need to use trackers. Ultimately if surveillance training is delivered well the likelihood of experiencing a loss is absolutely minimal. Reconnaissance and planning are key to any successful surveillance operation. Hand in hand with that goes compliance and privacy impact assessment and, as such, in our training course we focus heavily on these aspects to ensure that our surveillance agents are well versed in these areas. As a result, despite TSG not using trackers, our “loss” rate is consistently the lowest in the industry and we have never breached a client SLA in this area. We feel that trackers are a symptom of poor training and surveillance practice and will therefore be excluding them from our training delivery.’
Due to further recent growth at TSG, and to coincide with the launch of the new qualification, the business will be actively recruiting four new surveillance operatives off the back of its next training courses later in the year. Says Tim Young, CEO of TSG, ‘At TSG we think integrity is key. As a business providing surveillance training and qualifications for individuals, we feel it is important to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to offering opportunities. By working closely in the development of this new qualification with IQ we can be certain that individuals successfully completing the accreditation will be ready for surveillance operations. Our training courses have driven our recruitment policy over the past 20 years and our success as a business is very much down to the quality of training we provide through our courses, and the continuing training each operative receives once they enter employment.
‘With so many of our staff coming from an Armed Forces background we are conscious that life in civvy street can be a daunting prospect, and we are keen to show how working at TSG makes this transition both painless, enjoyable and rewarding. We’ve based a large amount of what we do on the feedback we receive from attending Career Transition Partnership events and similar. One of the biggest concerns that Armed Forces personnel have is that many training providers will be only too happy to take their precious ELCAS funding but, in reality, are offering no assistance with gaining a position in that chosen field once their training is over. As the market leader in our industry we recruit only the very best people coming through our courses, but feel that our responsibility to all trainees should not end at the issuing of a pass certificate. It is for this reason that we offer Insight to Industry days free of charge, to set out the potential for employment within the industry as a whole − not just with our company.
‘We also want trainees to come to us with a good initial understanding of what life is like as a surveillance operative. The can work can be challenging and very exciting but, on flip side, it will entail long hours and periods of inactivity. To remove any rose-tinted spectacle approach potential applicants may have, we tell it like it is. As part of our desire to be totally transparent we are intending to ask the first four trainees who successfully gain a position with TSG following completion of our IQ Level 4 to complete a blog that will be posted on our website. This will give individuals thinking about entering our industry and taking a course a complete insight into the training provided and life within TSG for three months after they start. It’s a brave thing to do but is an initiative that we feel sets us apart.’
TSG is one of the only providers to offer free Insight to Industry days, where individuals interested in moving to a career in surveillance can attend its custom training facility in Worcester, meet the team, and find out more about the surveillance industry and the opportunities it represents. The next Insight to Industry day takes place on 22 February.
To find out more about the new course, Insight to Industry days or TSG, visit www.thesurveillancegroup.com/training
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