Steve Holland – From the Ukraine to the UK, the Midlands to the Middle East

Steve Holland – From the Ukraine to the UK, the Midlands to the Middle East

In the enforcement industry for the last six years, Steve Holland has been working as an Enforcement Agent for #TeamCES for the last three years, but there’s so much more to his story that we thought we’d shine a little light on one of our own...

As you’ll all know by now, we like to recruit heavily from ex forces personnel, and Steve is a perfect example of that, having had a proud ten years in the British Army.

Steve is incredibly proud of his military background, having been deployed to the frontline in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. The first of his family to pursue a career in the forces, Steve achieved the rank of Corporal, and admits falling in love with the way of the soldier.

We can relate.

Following his time in the army, like many others in that situation, Steve found himself ‘mourning’ the loss of the lifestyle and vocation. Just as when you lose a family member, a friend or even a pet, leaving the forces can present you with a bit of a hole in your life.

This was certainly the case for Steve, who needed to find something to throw his energy (not to mention his huge range of transferable skills) into.

After the army, Steve became a hostile bodyguard AKA a close protection officer in Iraq and then Afghanistan. He just couldn’t keep away from the most dangerous places in the world it seemed.

He knew that he was making a difference in the role, such as when he was looking after the big bosses and engineers on the oil refineries, but he admits that it was the adrenaline that kept him coming back for more.

This was always a high stakes and dangerous role, with each assignment putting him to the test, mentally, physically and emotionally. Sure, he was looked after out there, with good living conditions and pay, but there would be times when he’d find himself asking the question...

“Why have I put myself in this position AGAIN?”

The fact that Steve was protecting British diplomats at the British embassy in Afghanistan, in 2018, as part of Team 1 in Kabul, shows just how recently Steve was back doing that kind of work (and there’s an even more recent example too...) He really does seem to keep putting himself in those hostile environments.

We’re talking about daily situations where Steve, and the people he was protecting, would be under direct threat from the Taliban, heading out on their assignments heavily armed and knowing that they could come under fire at any given moment.

When he wasn’t protecting diplomats, he was ensuring the safety of Met Police officers, sent over there to investigate the murder of British citizens.

It’s all big, scary stuff to hear about.

So, is working as an Enforcement Agent something of a break for Steve?

Does that come easily when compared to working in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Absolutely not.

As far as Steve is concerned, it’s all relative, and it’s about having perspective.

In those countries, in the most troubled parts of the world, Steve has always been heavily armed, and has felt in control of his own safety, most of the time anyway.

In the world of enforcement, Steve knows, as we all do, that a seemingly simple situation can become life threatening at the drop of a hat.

The start of Steve’s career in this industry came in 2015, working for our colleagues and competitors, Jacobs, who Steve says helped him enormously, putting him through his training and supporting him as he assumed this new role.

Stints with Marston’s and DCBL followed, but it’s not a case of being taught ‘everything he needed to know’, because let’s face it, in this industry, every day is a school day, no matter how long in the tooth you are.

Having been to the most dangerous places in the world, Steve still says that he is anything but complacent when out on assignment as an Enforcement Agent. He respects the job and never for one second thinks that he’s ‘something special’.

The conflict management skills he brings with him from both the army and his later work, make him a highly skilled professional within this industry, which he knows first hand can be a dangerous one...

Take the time he was chased with a samurai sword, left isolated on a housing estate awaiting the support of a police firearms unit...

Or the time when four ‘lads’ entered a property through the back, intent on kicking his head in...

What about the time when two older ‘gentlemen’ decided that they wanted to attack Steve, spitting on him and assaulting him?

There’s the time he was confronted by someone with a bread knife, not looking to make him a slice of toast either!

Yes, he’s had his fair share of difficult situations to deal with in this industry. He’s come to expect the unexpected, but speaks with real sadness about how the attitude to ‘bailiffs’ in this country is so often one of violence.

“If people are happy to attack to police officers, what chance do bailiffs have?”

He’s got a point.

So, what does Steve rely on for protection? His body armour? His HALO body cam?

They’re all useful tools to have, but Steve claims that the ultimate tool in this industry is his tongue, the ability to talk.

The common sense approach to a situation can bring about a de-escalation far more quickly than raising your voice can, besides, if you start at the top, you haven’t got any room to move.

Talking to people and remaining calm at all times is the best way to handle a situation.

We couldn’t agree more.

It’s not all life and death situations though, and Steve has a whole host of positive stories to share about his time as an Enforcement Agent, with one of the best having happened very recently.

Often involved in the eviction of travellers from illegal encampments, Steve was involved in a recent case where a large group of travellers had taken up residence on the grounds of Lancaster University. Now, this was particularly bad timing with a graduation event looming the very same week, and the hostility shown towards Steve and his team was nothing short of intimidation, mixed with real threats of physical violence.

What did they do?

Well, Steve has an ethos and attitude of ‘always coming out on top’, and with the support of his team, he was able to help bring the situation to a swift conclusion, with 20 caravans and over 30 trespassers safely escorted off the site within a few hours. No further police involvement was necessary and the incident even ended with handshakes and nods of mutual respect.

A job well done.

Steve is understandably very proud of his involvement in this case.

We’re proud of him too, but not just because of his work as an EA.

We mentioned earlier that Steve has something of an inability to stay away from some of the most dangerous places on earth, and as the title of this piece suggests, he’s not long been home from war torn Ukraine.

So, what’s that all about?

Steve has always said that he’ll ‘dip his toe’ into those situations, but in the case of Ukraine, it was more like diving in head first (albeit in a sensible and controlled manner if that’s even possible...)

We all wanted to do something when the news broke about Ukraine, and heading out there was Steve’s contribution.

He was involved in the planning and transportation of correspondents for a huge television network, getting their presenters and journalists into some of the hardest hit parts of the country, right into the ‘danger zone’.

His job title was something along the lines of ‘Security Risk Advisor’, helping to get the ‘news guys’ into positions to be able to see first hand the mass graves and the war crimes, in order to report this back to the wider world.

What a tremendous contribution this is, as without people like Steve, planning the routes and assessing the potential problems (and there’s quite a few of them...) the wider world may never have seen some of the atrocities happening on an hourly basis.

Steve’s work was about taking people there and bringing them back, assessing collateral damage along the way and doing everything he could to keep his people safe.

A terrifying experience at times, “real dangerous s***” to use Steve’s words, but this was something he absolutely loved being a part of.

Part of that love comes from the realisation that he was contributing, but it also comes from the adrenaline, and the excitement of being in the most dangerous part of the world, right there and then.

It’s the soldier instinct within him.

So, why is he back?

His little boy.

No brainer.

Having his son was a game changer for Steve, and it’s something we can probably all relate to. He could no longer justify being killed in a place that he simply didn’t need to be.

We think he’s more than done his bit, and we’re glad to have him back working as a vital part of #TeamCES.

We know from experience, that people looking to enter this industry won’t be put off by some of Steve’s stories.

They should, however, serve as cautionary notes that this is not a career to be messed around with.

It takes people who are made of strong stuff.

It could be the perfect career for someone with transferrable skills, such as those coming out of the army or leaving the police force.

If you’re one of those people, Steve has the following advice for you...

“If you’re going to come into this industry, you need to come in with an open mind. Knowledge is power and every single day is different. Always, always have an open mind...”

Steve, yet again, we couldn’t agree more.

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