The subject of this year’s Hostage UK seminar, Perspectives on Family Support and Employee Re-integration, involved a diversity of speakers from different sectors, all of whom used their first-hand experiences and knowledge-base to highlight best practice in the field.
The global rise in criminal kidnapping and new trends in terrorist kidnapping were both explored and one speaker looked at issues around local family and hostage support in the Nigerian context, where kidnapping is rife.
Representatives from various UK government and law enforcement agencies described their roles in kidnap cases, and in particular how they liaise with the families of hostages. They emphasised the benefits to hostages and their families when organisations, governments and law enforcement can work together and also where governments can work with each other.
Two former hostages gave an emotive account of the varying ways in which family members cope with the kidnap of their loved one. They also outlined the difficulties faced by a returning hostage and what helped them to cope with those difficulties.
The mental health impact of a kidnap was another area of focus with tips for employers as to what situations might cause distress to returning hostages.
Employment and health and safety law experts addressed duty of care issues faced by employers before, during and after a kidnap. They highlighted examples of best practice and where there are potential pitfalls.
Throughout the day, participants had the opportunity to discuss their own experiences and to learn from each other. While they heard from a diverse range of perspectives, there appeared to be consensus around the need to implement effective mechanisms and protocols for supporting families during a kidnap and returning hostages after a kidnap.
And as one speaker aptly put it, stakeholders in a kidnap should learn to regard the family of a hostage as an asset, rather than as something to manage and control.