I joined Land Registry’s International Unit in June 2012. Part of my role is to identify projects where Land Registry staff might be able to provide advice or practical assistance to overseas clients. This might be as part of donor funded aid missions, commercial projects or assistance directly to other governments. I act almost as a broker – identifying projects where we could add value, and then matching them with appropriate specialists from within the agency.
In the time I’ve spent with the International Unit, I’ve found that the greatest need for our services often comes from countries where effective land administration has been impeded as a result of war, natural disaster, or significant social, economic or political factors. This means that it’s sometimes necessary to travel to and within environments that are more challenging or fragile than usual.
In doing so, it’s extremely important for the Land Registry to uphold the duty of care we owe to our people and to equip them with the skills and knowledge to deal confidently with difficult situations. For this reason a small group of us recently took part in hostile environment awareness training.
We completed about eight hours of online training to gain vital facts, before taking part in class-based discussions and practical tests. We were challenged to consider and prepare for potentially dangerous scenarios, for example kidnap, traumatic first aid, negotiating border crossings and check points, and planning emergency exit routes from a hotel.
We learnt to test our own reactions to scenarios and then recreate them using what we had learnt. By putting theory into practice, my confidence grew and I was able to manage my reactions to situations more effectively.
Operating in hostile environments is not for everyone. The training gave us a taste of what it could be like to work in a challenging environment, and to consider if we wanted to proceed.
By undertaking this training, we’re building the strength, resilience and capability of our staff, so that they become more confident and knowledgeable in preparation for their assignments. This will contribute towards a higher likelihood of a successful visit and to their own feelings of well-being and comfort.
One thing this course has reminded me of is that bad things can happen anywhere, not just in “dangerous countries”. I learnt that it is surprisingly easy to put yourself in a vulnerable situation by being poorly prepared, or just complacent, even in everyday situations. But through better planning, potentially dangerous situations can be avoided, or where that’s not possible they can at least be better managed.
As well as helping us to develop as individuals, the course really helped us to reinforce good security protocols, already held with high importance. Not just overseas but in day-to-day life.