The chance of falling victim to kidnapping or blackmail in the UK is thankfully low. However if you are a successful businessperson or in the public eye, you are more likely to be targeted for this type of crime, and you may not realise that the most likely route to you is via a family member, especially an older teenage child.
Younger children are kept generally in sight and under the care of an adult, at home or in school, but once they gain a degree of independence, going out and about unsupervised, new dynamics and new risks come into play.
As a parent of an older teenager or young adult, you cannot control the places your son or daughter goes, what they drink and who they may encounter.
But you can, and should, take reasonable measures to ensure their safety.
Social media: Be very aware
Extortion using social media is on the increase. Teenagers today routinely and casually share personal details on facebook, Instagram, twitter, snapchat etc and this could mean they become a target for extortion.
It is important to tell your children about the potential dangers of social media habits such as checking in at every bar, coffee shop or club they go to – and suggest that they don’t!
Your teenage children might unwittingly be attracting attention of the wrong type by wearing a valuable watch or jewellery, carrying large amounts of cash, a top-of-the range iPhone and gadgets, or driving a luxury car.
Discretion is key, and it might mean leaving some of these items at home.
While you’re away…
Are you leaving older teenagers in your home, with your expensive cars in the garage, while you go on holiday or away on business? Party notices on social media soon drum up interest and potentially unwelcome house-guests.
Posting details of holiday plans and photos on social media is also best avoided, as it merely advertises that your property is empty.
Who are your friends?
While socialising exclusively with friends who share a similar lifestyle could seem elitist, it is in itself a form of security measure. Making sure your teenager knows who he or she is associating with can reduce the danger of criminality entering their circle of friends. A friend-of-a-friend might not be all they seem, and damaging information could be passed unwittingly to them by one of your son or daughter’s inner circle.
How you can protect your teenagers
It can be tempting to think that the leafy Cheshire countryside and towns are safe, particularly if you have moved from somewhere more ‘edgy’. However when other people see and become envious of your wealth and status there is always the danger it could turn into something more sinister, no matter where you live, and it may be the case that you need to consider employing expert help to keep your family safe.
This could be a security driver (trained to proactively avoid risky situations) or a security consultant based at your home.
A security driver is trained and experienced in making rapid assessments to avoid suspicious or potentially dangerous situations. Even simple measures such as routinely varying their routes and timings, checking vehicles and co-ordinating with other security staff can greatly reduce the chances of your teenager coming to harm.
Security consultants based in your home, keeping watch while you are on and off the premises is another option. Police budgets are being cut, and if you have a patrolling security firm, there will inevitably be delays in responding to a SOS from you, whereas someone visibly in place provides both deterrent and immediate response.
A security consultant can also provide discrete protection for your teenager while away from home, accompanying them and being able to make rapid risk assessments therefore avoiding potentially hazardous situations.
When it comes to protecting your family, the key is to seek the correct advice for your situation and take the necessary measures to ensure your life can run smoothly with minimum disruption. The price of denying an extortion or kidnap opportunity can seem an expensive on-going outlay but the alternative, especially where teenage children are concerned, cost could be far higher.
LUXURY CHESHIRE spoke to The Cheshire Group, which provides staff to the private household, including security consultants and security drivers.