Newly Trained Surveillance Operatives – 7 Common Traits to Avoid

Titan has been a surveillance training provider since 2017, predominantly to ensure that we can meet our future operational demand. Titan delivers a 5 day RQF Level 4 (Intermediate) in Covert Surveillance Operations. Our course differs from other training providers due to the opportunities post course. We further develop our successful learners through Titan’s industry – renowned “GROW” Student Aftercare Programme and deploy them on operational deployments.

All of our newly trained surveillance operatives now have the opportunity to attend an interview for a full time surveillance role with The Cotswold Group.

This being the case, the course is effectively a 5-day job interview where the training team gets to understand your character, abilities and areas requiring development. We deliver the advanced RQF Level 4 syllabus except the night – time surveillance module as we believe learners require this knowledge to be able to be an effective surveillance operative. The Titan Investigations Training Team are passionate about surveillance and have a combined 87 years of government surveillance operational and training experience plus countless years of operational surveillance experience and training in the private sector.
Why even consider training elsewhere?

Due to the Titan Investigations brand being well known and respected within the surveillance and close protection industries, we attract attention from successful learners of other training providers. We offer some of these learners operational deployments that, due to the shortcomings of their chosen training provider, they would never get. Unfortunately, we commonly experience consistent areas of bad practice by their operatives.
The reason for this post is to help non-Titan learners to make the grade and to also point out developmental areas for other training providers who will never see their learners post a course.

1. Clean Your Windows Prior To Commencing Observations

Operatives may travel some distance to an operational deployment and the weather may be inclement. Ensure all of your windows are cleaned and not just the area cleared by windscreen wipers.

Trained Surveillance Operatives Clean Car Windows | Titan Investigations

The difference between an image taken through a clean window and a dirty one is noticeable.

Trained Surveillance Operatives Clean Car Windows Dirty vs Clean | Titan Investigations

2. Set The Frame Of Your Image

You are now a professional surveillance operative, so we need to appear so. No client wants to see the inside of a camera platform or observation post so frame your image so as not to capture this.

Titan Trained Surveillance Operatives Frame Your Subject Image | Titan Investigations

Titan Trained Surveillance Operatives Frame Your Subject Image | Titan Investigations

When a subject enters a shop or if we are covering a subject’s home address awaiting them to exit, we need to maintain control. Titan uses pneumonic VENO.

  • Visual – We need to gain the visual of the shop doorway or front door of the home address.
  • Enter – In the scenario of a shop or financial institution, it may be an operational necessity to gain imagery of the subject evidence of his or her activity.
  • Nearside – Be in a position to cover the subject’s movement to the nearside (left).
  • Offside – Be in a position to cover the subject’s movement to the offside (right).

Non – Titan students tend to choose their positions within the subject’s 65% field of view or 10 to 2 on a clock face.

Surveillance Operative Training Standing in a Subjects 65% of view | Titan Investigations

The downside of this is that you are in the subject’s view and are giving them a free look at your profile. If we are to manoeuvre out of their natural field of view, then we are less likely to be observed.

4. Glossary

Titan teaches learners to say what they see clearly and concisely and without ambiguity or confusion. On a government seven – week surveillance course, you will be taught a set glossary, but on a five – day course this isn’t possible and would waste valuable time. Some surveillance training providers teach glossary. However, in our opinion, this causes confusion when working with teams who are not trained by the same provider. For example, they will refer to a male, female, vehicle and a house as the following;

  • Alpha – Male
  • Bravo – Vehicle
  • Charlie – House
  • Echo – Female

The reason this causes confusion is that a military trained surveillance operative will refer to these as follows;

  • Alpha – House
  • Bravo – Male
  • Charlie – Vehicle
  • Echo – Female

The only similarity is Echo, which will cause confusion.

If a learner is trained by Titan, they will say what you see to avoid confusion.

  • House – The subject exits the subject address.
  • Male – The subject is with a male.
  • Female – The subject is with a female.
  • Vehicle – The subject exits the subject vehicle.

The feedback we have received from employers is that this makes Titan learners more employable and they easily fit into any surveillance team. You may work with the same team regularly and then learn an enhanced glossary.

5. “Chadding”

This is a term used whilst performing mobile surveillance to describe the vehicle with the eyeball manoeuvring slightly to the left or right to see around vehicles between them and the subject vehicle to obtain a view of it. This is an unusual driving position and will attract attention from other road users and potentially be visible to the subject in their wing or rearview mirrors.

Titan Surveillance Operatives Training Chadding | Titan Investigations

If there are no deviations, which you will be informed of by your front seat passenger if double crewed or if single crewed will be clearly visible on your satellite navigation, then there’s nowhere for the vehicle to escape. So there’s no need to chad or move your vehicle’s position to check the subject vehicle is still there. This is common with inexperienced operatives who need reassurance that the subject vehicle is still there when out of view in traffic. If you need this reassurance, then, and you have the luxury of a surveillance motorcycle within your convoy, then they may be able to assist by looking over the top of vehicles as they have a higher seating position.

Titan Surveillance Operatives Training Chadding | Titan Investigations

6. Breaking the Box

Stop and plot is a way of creating a sterile area around the subject. A foot unit or a vehicle in the below scenario will have a visual on the subject address/ subject vehicle or an eyeball on the subject. The remaining vehicles will then plot up to cover every possible escape route once the subject vehicle moves off. I’m not going to discuss how we stop and plot as this is a lesson in itself. The red dot in the below image is the subject vehicle. The purple triangles marked 1, 2 & 3 are where the remaining vehicles are holding. If the subject vehicle drives away, it will eventually come to one of the team.

Trained Surveillance Operative Breaking The Box | Titan Investigations

A common theme we are seeing with non-Titan trained surveillance operatives is when the vehicle is given away in the direction of position 1, both positions 2 & 3 are then leaving their positions and travel towards plot 1 pre-empting plot 1 by stating that they have the eyeball on the subject vehicle. Positions 1 & 2 should remain in position until plot 1 has control of the subject. The reason for this is that the subject may not go to plot 1. If this is the case, then we have allowed two potential escape routes which are now not being monitored. Don’t break the box!

7. Mirroring

Mirroring the subject vehicle’s manoeuvres is a faux par we avoid. The easiest way to illustrate this is on a motorway. If the subject vehicle moves from the nearside lane to the centre lane to the offside lane and back to the centre, this can be monitored from the nearside lane where the subject vehicle was initially. If not, it can be handed to the backup surveillance vehicle. If the eyeball vehicle is to mirror this manoeuvre, it may be obvious to the subject and a compromise may ensue. Don’t mirror, there are other vehicles in your team!

Surveillance Training Courses Mirroring | Titan Investigations

These are just seven areas we wish to highlight at this time. All the content included in this article is readily available on the internet already, so we’re not giving anything away. We hope this helps non-Titan trained operatives get up to speed, as no doubt we will be employing you at some point in the future.

Titan offers two surveillance courses which are certificated by Skills For Justice to a Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 4.

Surveillance Operatives – What are RQF Qualifications?

The RQF came into force in 2015 and was designed to offer a simpler system for managing qualifications regulated by Ofqual.
Similar to a library bookcase, the RQF allows training providers to index qualifications based on their level and size. The higher the qualification, the greater the complexity and difficulty of the skills and knowledge associated with the qualification.

Titan delivers two surveillance courses, an Intermediate and an Advanced RQF Level 4 in Covert Surveillance Operations. The Intermediate course is a 5-day course and the Advanced is a 2-week course.

For more information see the links below:
5 Day Intermediate Surveillance Course

2 Week Advanced Surveillance Course

What is the difference between the two surveillance training courses?

The Intermediate and Advanced syllabi are very similar in content, other than the Advanced has a nighttime surveillance element. The Intermediate course covers so much more than the awarding body has set out as a minimum requirement. It is effectively the Advanced course with a lower Total Qualification Time (TQT) resulting in the learner gaining so much more.

Titan’s next course dates are;

Monday 19th – Friday 23rd September 2022
Monday 21st – Friday 25th November 2022

Surveillance Training – Who do I contact for further information?

If you wish to be trained by Titan Surveillance Training or feel you would benefit from retraining and then have real opportunities of operational deployments post course or a full time surveillance job, then please contact one of the Titan Surveillance Training Team. There really is no reason to look elsewhere!

Surveillance Training London – Call Titan Investigations 020 39046622
Surveillance Training Birmingham – Call Titan Investigations on 0121 7162442
Surveillance Training Cambridge – Call Titan Investigations 01223662022
Surveillance Training Derby (Head Office) – Call Titan Investigations 01332 504256
Surveillance Training Leeds – Call Titan Investigations 0113 4574066
Surveillance Training Leicester – Call Titan Investigations 0116 2436520
Surveillance Training Nottingham – Call Titan Investigations 0115 9646950
Surveillance Training Manchester – Call Titan Investigations 0161 3023008
Surveillance Training Sheffield – Call Titan Investigations 0114 3499400

Alternatively, contact us by email at or use our fully confidential contact form and one of our team will get right back to you or use our Live Chat facility to chat directly with one of our Surveillance Trainers.

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