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Counter- and anti-surveillance training

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Counter-surveillance is the ability to detect surveillance, and anti-surveillance is what to do about any detected surveillance. A proper understanding of counter- and anti-surveillance principles and techniques is important for human rights defenders, journalists, aid workers and others operating in hostile environments or under repressive regimes, particularly if working with informants, whistleblowers and others at risk. Both the client and the people they are working with can be endangered by surveillance by state security forces or terrorists, organised crime gangs and other non-state groups.

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Counter- and anti-surveillance usually requires a team or teams of operatives to be effective, but civil society actors do not have this luxury. Our one-day course teaches individuals how to identify basic surveillance on themselves and how to avoid or escape it, but recognises and adapts to the limitations operating solo places on such measures. The first half of the day is spent in the classroom learning the theory and principles of surveillance, how to detect it and how to avoid or escape it. This part of the day includes a scenario-based tabletop exercise. The second half is spent completing realistic practical exercises that put the theory into practice.

Course content

  • Introduction to surveillance
  • How surveillance is conducted
  • How to avoid surveillance
  • How to identify surveillance
  • How to evade surveillance
  • Tabletop exercise
  • Practical exercises

We maintain an excellent instructor-to-student ratio of 1:6 (2:6 for the practical sessions) to ensure that students fully benefit from the course.

This courses can be run at your own site or at sites across the country. The counter- and anti-surveillance course is also available as an optional extra day on our flagship Personal Security in Hostile Environments (HEAT) course.


Open Briefing’s counter- and anti-surveillance training is led by our security consultant Cavan Murtagh. Cavan left the Royal Marines in 2013 after 23 years’ service, during which he was operationally deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Latterly in his military career he specialised as a human intelligence (HUMINT) operator with the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre. On leaving the military, he worked as a covert surveillance operator for a British private security company and obtained a BTEC Level 4 in Advanced Surveillance Practice. More recently, he has worked extensively as a security adviser protecting NGO and corporate workers in fragile and conflict-affected states, including Yemen and Somalia. Cavan is also an experienced instructor and mentor, and holds a Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (CTLLS) and a CMI Level 5 Diploma in Coaching and Mentoring.

If you suspect your home, office or car is subject to electronic surveillance, Open Briefing can arrange for a technical surveillance countermeasures sweep (TSCM). This identifies any intrusive eavesdropping, detects the presence of hostile technical surveillance equipment and GPS tracking devices, and identifies any technical security weaknesses that may allow penetration. The process can be conducted covertly, and involves an initial site visit, which includes measuring the area and a Tier 1 visual inspection, followed by a full technical sweep and survey.

Counter- and anti-surveillance (London venue)1£135 per person
Counter- and anti-surveillance (outside London)1£POA

Courses can be run for between six and 12 students at a time. All prices are plus VAT and subject to change. Please read our terms and conditions before booking a course.

Please contact us for more information and to book a course.

Open Briefing is a member of the International NGO Safety & Security Association, BOND and the Charities Security Forum. We are also a certified social enterprise.


Open Briefing is a certified social enterprise and a member of
the International NGO Safety and Security Association and CIVICUS