RIVICA Investigation & Covert Solutions has just delivered another successful Surveillance Course and challenged the attendees with an extremely difficult final assignment.

Well the weather was very hot in Melbourne last week and the challenges the students met on their final exercise, were even hotter!

We started the week off at ISTA in Melbourne CBD where the attendees had a chance to meet each other and meet myself; some for the first time. This was a first for our course as we had an attendee travel down from Sydney to take part in our training, as well as a number of past students whom I had taught for their Certificate III Investigative Services qualification. So it was a great balance of experienced Private Investigators, newly qualified Investigators and also an experienced factual Investigator whom was attending in order to move into surveillance work.

The first day the attendees were taught about the principles of surveillance tradecraft, how to reduce exposure, how to increase their longevity in the field, communication and team work. They were introduced to our wide range of covert cameras and instructed and given tips on the best way to use the devices based on the individuals personal style, and provided their own cameras to practice with and use for the weeks course. (None of the covert cameras were handed back to me at the end and were purchased!) The day ended with foot surveillance around Melbourne CBD, a practical introduction to the theory they had learned about in the classroom.

On day two the students were provided with a starting point and were expected to travel to the location and set up on the subject, creating a sterile area around the subject.  They were expected to quickly assess a new area and risk assess the potential hazards to surveillance to avoid exposure and a potential loss of the subject. They were given instruction on vehicle selection and advise on how to set up a surveillance vehicle. They were shown an example of one of our vehicles in how we set it up for battery management, how we use the principles of camouflage to conceal a camera and the occupant, and ideas on how to mount cameras in vehicles.

We were joined by Maria whom I would like to thank for her assistance for the week. Maria is an experienced surveillance operative who has worked in the field for many years in New Zealand and who attended our last surveillance course. We used Maria as our subject and spent the day following her to many different locations around Melbourne, most of which none of the attendees were familiar with. Throughout the day I travelled in the car with each attendee and provided assistance and feedback as we progressed through the day, regularly stopping for a de brief and feedback.

Day three commenced at our venue in Essendon, where the attendees received a class on contemporaneous note taking, video/image processing and evidence handling and continuity of evidence. They were provided with a contemporaneous note book specially designed by us for the purpose of keeping surveillance notes, and provided with our manual for future reference. The afternoon consisted of more vehicle and foot surveillance, where the intensity was increased and it was great to see the attendees demonstrating the principles that were taught on day one.

Day four was their minor exercise. They were given a client brief, a subject who they did not know and the potential vehicles, and were expected to set up and follow the subject to identify his movements, any associates and a home address. This exercise was designed for the attendees to conduct an assignment allowing them to practice their surveillance skills, their ability to use the covert cameras and obtain optical evidence and to successfully complete the contemporaneous notes.

At the end of the three hour exercise we engaged in a debrief, completed their contemporaneous notes and then had to demonstrate their knowledge of evidence handling, processing of their images and creating master copies of their optical evidence. All this on a 37 degree day, and can I just say they did a great job. The feedback from the role player and the quality of the video evidence they obtained, well lets just say any PI company would have been ecstatic with the result.

So moving onto the last day, I had a number of options to test the team, because by this time I can not really call them attendees any more, because they were a TEAM.

So they were given their brief and the objectives of the surveillance. This was going to be a tough test, and to be honest I was not 100% sure it was a good idea. But as they dealt with the exercise the day before so well, I wanted to see how much they could deal with. So I went with it. Over the last couple of months I have been discussing with a close friend and colleague of mine David ROSSBOROUGH about the possibility of running my final exercise alongside the final exercise of his ISTA certificate III Bodyguard course. David was to be the teams subject, and the team was required to conduct surveillance on him in spite of his protection detail of five members in two vehicles.

Our exercise commenced at around 0800hrs in a coffee shop in the CBD were the subject arrived and had breakfast. Little did he or his security detail know that he was also having breakfast with one of our operative who was filming every mouth full! So throughout the day the team followed the subject on foot and in vehicles to various locations around Melbourne and was able to obtain footage of the subject and all the security detail and vehicles at almost every venue, at the Gym, at a meeting, at lunch etc. It was an extremely challenging day as the vehicles would drop off their principle and keep moving around which made it extremely tough to maintain control of the subject when there were so many eyes looking out for potential surveillance.

At the conclusion of the operation myself and David got together to provide feedback on the day and I was expecting that most of the operatives that deployed in close to him would have been identified and maybe a vehicle or two. But to my amazement, not one of my team or the vehicles were identified. A truly amazing job in such challenging conditions.

It was an fantastic learning opportunity not only for my surveillance team but also for the the students on the Bodyguard course who executed their roles so well during their exercise and made it so challenging for us! Id like to thank David and his students for allowing us to use them as our subjects and am always available to assist them again in the future if needed.

So in closing I want to thank those who attended the training and congratulate them for a fantastic weeks work. It was a pleasure to teach you all and I hope you all keep in touch.