More news & features

Published: November 20, 2013

When Associated British Foods (ABF) sent a film crew to Dhaka, Bangladesh, this November to document working conditions in the country, they employed a team from security specialist Pilgrims Group to provide the close protection needed in potentially hostile conditions.

The Western crew had been asked to film a report for ABF directors in response to the tragic and widely reported collapse of Dhaka’s Rana Plaza clothing factory in April this year. Their schedule took them away from tourist locations, through areas where feelings towards European and US citizens can run high. In addition, other political pressures meant the chance of demonstrations and civil disturbance was high at the time of the visit.

A team, led by Pilgrims security consultant, Billy O’Halloran, planned the visit using the company’s extensive local knowledge and network of contacts in Bangladesh to ensure the ABF team could move around in safety over the week-long trip.

“We briefed the client’s team on every threat, from pick-pocketing through to terrorism and kidnap,” says O’Halloran. “A media crew had been attacked the previous month so it was top of our priorities to keep the clients together and away from crowds.”

Using a variety of techniques, including open source intelligence, a three-strong car team and Pilgrims international communication networks, O’Halloran was able to ensure the clients moved safely at all times and were prepared for a quick escape in the event of an incident.

“A combination of political factors in Bangladesh, including anti-government demonstrations and actions by Jihadist sympathisers, meant the situation on the ground could be volatile.” says O’Halloran. “We discovered that unrelated demonstrations were planned over several days of this visit. While they were able to finish the work that they came for, the ABF team took our advice to cut short their filming at one location, completing their project in the safety of their hotel on the final day.”

Head of ABF Group Security Department, Bob Randall, described the work of Pilgrims as: “A thoroughly professional deployment, filled with challenges requiring elasticity of mind and process. Our colleagues took comfort from the presence of Pilgrims, their calm composure, sagacity and pragmatism, which contributed significantly to the overall success of the project.”