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When Predator becomes Prey

“When Predator becomes Prey” - the role of behavioural detection in safeguarding children


I’m writing this blog to highlight some of the lesser known benefits of BDO (Behavioural Detection Operative) work, namely the identification and disruption of those suspected of inappropriate sexual conduct towards children and young persons.


Our experience as BDOs started several decades ago in various organisations from law enforcement covert operations, military special forces and civil behaviourists. At that time, of course, none of us realised we would become BDOs, but we were in fact, using the skills on a daily basis in what we would later call “behavioural detection”.

One of the most enlightening (and satisfying) parts of our work was the identification and disruption of those suspected of inappropriate conduct towards children and young adults.

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The very nature of the tactic is to look for triggers that determine pressures on an individual that is outside the norm. Knowing this does not help the “bad actor” as they are wired deep into the individuals system (if you’re now expecting a long list of the triggers then you will be disappointed),

We all noticed that within certain areas of our deployment there were a much higher percentage of subjects (all male) who were exhibiting some of these triggers, the subjects were usually confined to areas where children and young people, both boys and girls, were busy doing their chosen sports/jobs.

This is a very sensitive area, you clearly can’t just pop along to someone and accuse them of being a “Paedophile”. We observed their conduct and in certain cases had enough in our armoury to speak with the individuals. In many cases they tried to bluff their way out, but careful discussions with them revealed other things going on that indicated deceit (the rapid destruction of camera images before the police arrived gave a hint). These individuals were then handed off to the authorities for their enquiries.

There are always individuals who don’t register quite so strongly but give the BDO enough pause for thought that further efforts are required, in these cases the safeguarding of the young people is paramount and we deploy many other tactics that ensure a safe event for those concerned.


Our work at other events takes us into various types of audiences, to date they have all had significant numbers of children and young people attending and have all had persons who we considered threats to them.

For event organisers, this should be an area for concern, but with the use of behavioural detection operatives in attendance this threat (amongst many others) can be well managed.

The press often refer to these individuals as “predators”, in our experience, when under our microscope they are anything but.

Dave Perry


BDO Security Ltd

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