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Views from the top: The security chief (Pete Murphy)

Post-Bataclan and with terrorism warnings on high alert, an ex-marine reveals how the industry is playing catch-up

Post-Bataclan, an ex-marine reveals how military precision is helping the live industry play catch-up

Who are you?

Pete Murphy, co-founder and operations director for Priavo Security Ltd.

What do you do?

We provide executive protection and event security services for private and corporate clients globally, including touring musicians. In summary, we protect people, secure assets and manage risk.

Where do you do it?

Everywhere! Our network spans the globe. Our operatives have worked in over 50 medium- and high-risk countries worldwide.

Why do you do it?

Security is a necessity in the current global landscape. Violence has become an acceptable medium to send political and religious messages. Kidnapping and extortion have become a thriving business. Lone-wolf and terror attacks are a regular occurrence. Large venues and events are getting hit. With the unlimited availability of information on the internet, individuals who were previously under the radar are now easily accessible by adversaries. Corporate executives, celebrities, artists, bands and private individuals are all at increased risk.

I created Priavo to provide security globally, enabling our clients to live the lifestyle they choose without fear of personal safety. It is our mission is to make each and every one of our clients feel safe without intruding on their lifestyle.

How did you get started in the business?

My career in security began while serving in the UK Special Forces. I deployed to Afghanistan, serving as part of a close protection cell for high-profile British dignitaries and VIPs up to ministerial level. The private security industry was a natural progression upon leaving the military.

What’s your biggest success to date?

We measure our success on how little happens in terms of risk, threat and security incidents.

But our biggest success event-wise? One that springs to mind was arranging executive protection for an A-lister’s week-long birthday party. The celebrations were held across multiple venues in Morocco and Paris and included day trips, parties and many other events on a daily basis for 60-plus guests.

As well as providing executive protection throughout the week we provided full logistical coordination of all private jet and ground movements. In total we provided 15 operatives, five local venue security, coordination of local police and military support.

What is the issue that never seems to go away?

Complacency. It seems the industry is well aware of the risks and the need for security, but not everyone will invest in a robust security solution. After Bataclan [the Paris music venue attacked by gunmen in November 2015] we saw a dramatic increase in enquiries for security across Europe – not only from the music industry but from the corporate and events sector, too. Security reviews and solutions have been adopted quickly within corporate events but it seems the live industry has been slow to buy into this trend.

Security is a non-tangible product and, like insurance, people are reluctant to pay. Some managers seem willing to compromise their duty of care to artists and production teams – however, the appetite for risk varies considerably, and certain groups are not willing to ‘run the gauntlet’.

How has the security sector changed since you first started out?

The industry has grown exponentially since I first started, and is now one of the fastest-growing sectors globally – something that’s not surprising considering the state of the world and the ever-evolving terror threat.

For many years the security industry seems to have been driven by price, with many professionals finding it hard to compete with the low prices that have flooded the market over the last decade since the introduction of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) [a UK quango set up in 2007 to regulate the private security industry but which was beset by controversy from the outset, with revelations including that it had given over 6,000 bouncer licences to illegal immigrants, overspent its budget by £17m and failed to background check even its own staff – Security Ed]. The SIA allowed the security business to be saturated with inexperienced and under-skilled operators, diluting a once-professional industry.

Now, however, it appears the market for professional, experienced and credible security providers is one again resonating with many clients, and the industry is moving towards self-regulation, with many committed to driving up standards up beyond those set by the SIA. Priavo is at the forefront of this change.

You obviously can’t name any names, but can you give us a clue as to any of your music industry clients?

Our first music task was for a well-known American rock group who had concerns about travelling to higher-risk countries on their tour. Additional security was requested to give the band members the confidence to continue the tour in areas experiencing civil protests and anti-US sentiment. This job was executed as we would any other, with military planning and precision backed by our global military and civilian networks.

We have been lucky enough to have worked and supported some very high-profile artists across the globe – though I’m sure you appreciate the nature of our business doesn’t allow to disclose identities!

This is #13 of 14 ‘views from the top’ appearing in PSNLive 2016, PSNEurope’s 11th annual analysis of the European live sound industry.