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Risk Assessment Notes 3

Risk Assessment Notes 3
Photo: Jose Cortes Oaxaca

Use these notes to help you complete your Risk Assessment Form.

Profile Risks

This is not about how you perceive yourself, but how others may perceive you. Be aware of your image and presence online, and consider any past affiliations, jobs, and assignments that may compromise your safety. The same questions apply to those accompanying you.

Is there an increased risk as a result of your gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs or nationality? What about those accompanying you, and how does your profile affect them?

Fixers and Other Locally Hired Freelancers

What are the risks related to your locally hired professional support?

For their own security your fixer and/or driver may not need to know all the details of your assignment, but they must know the risks they are taking, discuss with them safety measures and the consequences of getting into trouble.

What are the credentials and experience of local fixer/driver/translator that make them suitable for this assignment?

Know the people you will be working with and relying on. Do you trust them?

Equipment and Carnet

It is advisable to have a detailed equipment list with serial numbers. Some freelancers decide to turn down assignments if there is a high risk of expensive and uninsured equipment being lost. What professional kit will you be taking with you? What are the import regulations/restrictions in your destination country? Do you require a carnet? If you are travelling as a tourist or undercover, the equipment you take must be appropriate to your cover story.

Personal Protection Equipment

Assess what safety equipment you need to take with you (from flak jacket, tear gas goggles and helmet to strong boots). Check costumes regulations.

Rushes, Recordings, Notes and Material

How will you store information and/or your material? Would the loss or confiscation of your material put other people at risk? How will you get your material out of the country/location where you have been working? What data-wrangling and back-up regime will you be operating?


What are the main risks related to your lodgings?

Securing accommodation on location – for you, your crew and your rushes – is vital, though not always easy to find or to afford. Consider not only where you stay, but the travel time and potential exposure risks of travelling from where you are staying to where you will be working. Well known hotels, small guest houses or a friend's flat; they all pose advantages and disadvantages in terms of risk and safety. Be aware of these risks, assess what's your best option and plan ways to mitigate danger.

Each assignment and location may be different, even between neighbouring towns.

Points to consider when choosing where to set up:

  • Are there already some security measures in place (e.g.. guards)?
  • Who else is staying there (e.g. diplomats, other journalists, tourists)?
  • How close are you to potential terrorist targets (e.g. embassies, tourist destination, barracks, etc.)?
  • How might your accommodation affect your profile?
  • How easy would access be in the event of an emergency?
  • How able is the building to withstand attack, do you need to tape the windows, is there a basement?
  • Does the building, area, have a history of problems/incidents?


Consider here the availability and risk associated with your means of communication –internet, international mobile phone, local SIM card, land line, satellite. Think carefully how you will be communicating during your assignment, and how you will be communicating with your editor and key security contact.

Will you be using a tracking or GPS device? Who will be monitoring your journey, and who will respond to a distress call?  The advice of other journalists and communications experts can be vital in assessing risk associated with communications. For more on this, see our digital security resource.

All of the above will affect your communications plan.

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