Hints And Tips for the New Surveillance Operative

A lot of my blog readers seem to be within the surveillance and investigations industry or people looking to get into it and with the amount of military leavers only ever increasing, surveillance is often a go to career choice. I have worked with lots of new starters now and probably will continue to do so for the rest of my surveillance career. It is tough starting out so hopefully these hints and tips for the new surveillance operative will be of use!

Learn how to spell "surveillance"

You will be amazed how many times a day, even on my days off, I type the word Surveillance. Easily 10 times a day I bet! Now this is so common it’s unreal but you can’t be competent in a subject if you can’t even spell it without auto correct.

I see it on LinkedIn and in the emails all the time. Please learn how to spell it.

Never go on task without a urination receptacle

Rather self-explanatory this one as a long surveillance period without a urination receptacle (pee bottle) is horrendous! The favoured bottle with the male surveillance operatives at the moment is an empty washing detergent tub such as Lenor. For female operatives I’ve been enlightened that a she-wee is the way to go.

All very glamourous this job at times!

Key Hook

When you first start out you’ll be preparing your surveillance vehicle and tinkering no end to get it just right for you.

One thing to think about is giving everything a place. For me every wire and piece of dust has its spot in my car.

This lets you build a muscle memory so when your brain capacity is filling up when the job is going at 100mph you’ve got one less thing to think about. Most importantly when you need to start rushing off, where the f**k did I put my car keys!?!

Wind Deflectors

These things are the little pieces of plastic that slot into your windows to deflect wind and stop the rain getting in whilst your window is cracked. For surveillance it also lets you have your windows cracked whilst unseen to passers-by letting fresh air into your car and at the same time keeping your windows mist free.

Face Masks

Now with the current climate, face masks are only going to be more and more common place. This is a massive advantage on our part as these things can cover almost 50% of your face.

This is brilliant when you’re getting up close and personal with your subjects in shops or on public transport.

Having different colours on hand with outfit changes can mean your subject will never notice you even after 2 or 3 close encounters.

Spare Shoes

As I’ve just mentioned outfit changes which are crucial, never forget to always try and change your shoes when changing the outfit.

Shoes can be the one thing a lot of people keep the same from outfit to outfit but after working with some of the best guys around when they do counter-surveillance they’ll always focus on peoples shoes!

Power Banks

A simple point. You’ll probably never have too many of these, especially if you work in London and you’re on foot for a lot of the surveillance period.

Get big ones for your bag and at least one you can have in your pocket.


Get yourself a decent sat nav. When buying one look for one that can include traffic updates, alerts you of speed cameras (including red light cameras), and one that will keep updating as roads are ever changing at the moment.

I choose TomTom as a make as they’re simple and quick to use. They display compass direction and street names as you drive along meaning your commentary is much smoother and people think you know what you’re doing.

Remember to make sure you place the sat nav well out of your camera angles on the windscreen as well!

That's All Folks

Now there are probably a hundred more I could write about but these are my main ones I share with others as they join the industry.

I hope this helps at least one person and wish you all the best!

Thanks for reading please feel free to share and get in touch if you need more help.


Spare shoes are vital for any surveillance task.
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