Crisis Management Series
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Playbook: Kidnap and Hostage Situations

What happened if your management staff or employees are being kidnapped or held ransom?
Moh Heng Goh
Crisis Management Certified Planner-Specialist-Expert

Action Steps

The Incident Management Team should:

  • IC_CM_Kidnap and Hostage Situations

    Make a thorough check of the circumstances of the disappearance and verify that the victim is missing
  • Obtain the confidential personal file of the hostage, if available
  • Be prepared to ask a ‘proof of life’ question on receipt of the initial demand call
  • Designate the telephone to be used for negotiations (with recording equipment attached), and make arrangements for the permanent manning of this telephone, if appropriate
  • Brief other likely recipients of the telephone call from the kidnappers with instructions to refer the caller to the designated telephone
  • Brief the local law enforcement agency at the highest possible level, ideally this should be a senior office already known to ABC COMPANY LIMITED through earlier liaison
  • Establish the legal position on ransom payments
  • Ensure any families involved receive appropriate assistance, in particular:
  • Brief them regarding ABC COMPANY LIMITED’s commitment to the safe release of the victim
  • Reassure them and make arrangements for their physical protection, possibly by moving them to a safe location
  • Ensure they are protected from telephone calls from the kidnappers and the media
  • Establish and maintain a media blackout with the help of the local law enforcement agencies

Where this is not possible, and the media have knowledge of the kidnap:

  • Do not make comments to media representatives unless through an authorized spokesperson
  • Prepare the texts of all statements to the media carefully and agree on them with the board crisis management team and the police, if appropriate
  • Discreetly review and improve, if necessary, the security of the senior local employees of ABC COMPANY LIMITED
  • Playbook for Response to Crisis ScenarioIdentify the most senior level at which contact with the local government can be established; and be prepared, after clearance by the board (crisis management) team, to obtain agreement that:
  • The life of any hostage is their priority
  • Representatives of the group have the authority to negotiate with the extortionists
  • Representatives of the group have the authority to negotiate the release
  • The group will co-operate with the police, provided that the life of the hostage is not put at risk.

In kidnap and hostage situations, tight security must be maintained in all aspects of planning and when deciding policy and intentions.



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Reference Guide

A Manager’s Guide to Implementing Your Crisis Management PlanGoh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Crisis Management Plan. Business Continuity Management Specialist Series (1st ed., p. 192). Singapore: GMH Pte Ltd.

Extracted from Appendix 6B: Kidnap and Hostage Situations

Note: This version is the draft 2nd Edition being updated in 2021. The numeric in the square bracket {C##] and [AX-#] is the cross-referencing of the actual chapter and appendices in the 2016 Edition.

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