Kidnapping and Abduction

by Mark Rowe

Author: Brian John Heard

ISBN No: 9781 4822 28151

Review date: 02/03/2024

No of pages: 222

Publisher: CRC Press

Publisher URL:

Year of publication: 13/02/2015


Kidnapping and Abduction: Minimising the Threat and Lessons in Survival



While a new book about kidnapping confirms that it’s a problem for Latin America, west Africa and Afghanistan, it happens in the UK too – much of it unreported, the author says.

Brian John Heard reports a surge in extortion rackets run by eastern European gangs. The Met Police’s specialist kidnap unit, the only one in the UK, worked on only a fraction of reported cases. Most of those cases were only reported to police after the ransom was paid and the victim freed – usually a foreign national, from the same ethnic group as the kidnappers. While the demands are only for relatively small amounts, the kidnap may include torture and extreme violence, he adds.

While some of the countries that the author covers are as he says ‘not by any stretch of the imagination’ a tourist destination (such as Chechnya, Somalia), it’s striking that some (South Africa, Mexico) are.

This book is full of good sense for the security person who wants to know more about the issue, and for the business traveller or anyone who feels or is advised that they are at risk of kidnap.

Having gone through what sort of people do kidnaps and why (for a ransom, terrorists for publicity and to advance their cause generally – which may overlap with a ransom demand) Heard devotes much of the book to practicalities. How to be secure – whether the tourist or business traveller – in a restaurant, or hotel, or when driving. He goes through what vehicle to select, and some basics about ‘defensive driving’ and self-defence. You may be kidnapped from an oil rig, or a vessel. Heard leaves until late in the book – after chapters on body armour and guns – how to survive when kidnapped. He does reassure that the chances of kidnap are small, and the chances of survival high: “Kidnapping is unquestionably a petrifying experience, but with some mental fortitude, it is possible to cope with the situation far better than you might realise.” With frankness he points out that you are only of value to your abductors alive, though you will be given rags to wear and will have to ‘endure degradation and extreme discomfort for however long it takes for you to be freed’. The captivity is as much about isolation and inactivity as brutality. He urges that you think and plan beforehand. Stay calm, and alert; don’t provoke your kidnappers; discipline yourself to commit details to memory. Be patient. ‘Concentrate on surviving.’ Heard goes into further details about how you might best – for your own survival – act, depending on who’s abducted you and why; hence it’s so important for you to be observant about your captors, any vehicles, and the places you’re held in. The next chapter will be of direct use to few people – debriefing after a kidnap – yet by setting out how the survivor may alternate between feelings of ‘anger, sadness, and relief and even have thoughts of suicide’ Heard drives home what a serious subject this is. Likewise with the chapter on hostage negotiation: it’s there, as the author says, to give ‘high-risk victims’ an idea of what will go on, and how long it will take. Intriguingly, Heard makes the point that the negotiation – and even the language of an agreement – must preserve the kidnappers’ dignity. And as for the non-negotiation policy of some governments, including the UK’s, Heard adds that ‘every policy is open to exceptions’. Heard ends on a sombre note – recalling the 2004 siege and massacre at Beslan by Chechen separatists who took a school hostage.

Kidnapping and Abduction: Minimising the Threat and Lessons in Survival, by Brian John Heard. Published 2014 by CRC Press, hardback, 222 pages.
ISBN 9781 4822 28151. Visit


Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay on top of security news and events.

© 2024 Professional Security Magazine. All rights reserved.

Website by MSEC Marketing