Kidnap for ransom has become a multi-billion dollar industry for criminals and a mammoth headache for business leaders with travelling workers.  


Martin Richards spent more than 30 years in London’s Metropolitan Police with ten of those years as a hostage and crisis negotiator assisting the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

“Your strategy is what’s really critical in these situations and if an organisation hasn’t got it sorted before a kidnap, they are scrambling around trying to do it at the time. Poor strategy is usually where people and organisations come unstuck,” Martin said.

“Whether you are going to pay or not, who you are going to cover with regards to family members, and how far down the line you go in terms of the family tree are all things you need to consider.

“It’s about your travelling population and who you cover, it’s your team setup. Are you willing to resist or are you going to pay without resisting? If you do resist, how far are you willing to go if you start receiving body parts through the post?” Martin said.

It’s these decisions that should be made prior to a kidnap and written into an organisation’s kidnap plan. Martin said trying to make these decisions, often many hours into a kidnap, will not lead to a positive result.

“Victims’ families is another area where mistakes are often made,” Martin said.  

“Organisations can quickly lose the trust of the family and never get it back. Once that happens, families will often go off-script and start negotiating at the same time you are and won’t tell you.

“Then organisations wonder why the kidnap has gone on for so long. The hostages will often get on the phone to the families and it’s all because you haven’t gained their trust,” he said.  

Dynamiq founder and Director of Strategy Anthony Moorhouse will join Martin Richards and Managing Director and General Counsel at Hazelwood Street Consultants, Bruce Kaplan, next Thursday to discuss the latest thinking on kidnap for ransom. 

The online event will cover current trends and hotspots, types of insurance coverage and prevention strategies and procedures. Read more.

Anthony said one of the most important risk management tactics for these types of crimes is keeping the coverage confidential and many insurance policies will require firms to ensure that those who are covered don’t know they’re covered.

“The more people who know about it, the bigger risk to a company. It's best if employees and their families have no knowledge of the coverage.

"Unlike normal crisis management, it's extremely important to keep the inner circle for a kidnap response small.  

“Everyone will want to help, but a corporate response team should be no more than five people. The CEO should not be on the team. He or she needs to run the business,” he said.

Martin agreed and said ideally the CEO wouldn’t be on the team, leaving the corporate team to deal with it.

“You would normally have legal, communications, human resources and security dealing with the incident.

"Yet sometimes in small, privately owned companies that are also family businesses, or high net worth individuals, you will have a situation where the CEO will want to sit on the team.

"However, the CEO should be kept out of it and just make the decision as to whether they will pay,” Martin said.

What:  Kidnap, ransom and a travelling workforce - webinar

When: April 27 at 9:00am AEDT

Don’t worry if you can’t attend the online event. Simply register, and we will send you a copy of the recording.

Register now.

Martin Richards recently released Just when you think you are winning...: Humorous tales of a Hostage Negotiator.

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