Forward Surveillance

Forward surveillance is a term denoting one of the two main tactic methods when carrying out physical surveillance of a selected person, the so-called “object”, another term used by the communist State Police to define their subject of interest.

According to the Directive for the Activity of the Surveillance Units, physical surveillance was carried out as accompanying or forward. The forward surveillance method allowed the surveillants to gain control over the activity of the object by staff who were placed in advance at the anticipated direction of movement of the object. The surveillants could move in the anticipated route (mobile forward surveillance) or wait at stationary spots, whether open of concealed (static forward surveillance). Same as with accompanying surveillance, various methods were used, such as direct route, stage and area surveillance. In practice, the techniques and methods were combined and selected according to the specific conditions.

Staff from the 4th Section of Department IV (cover name for Surveillance Department) gained the necessary practice and also feedback also by doing trainee surveillance on colleagues from Department I (Foreign Intelligence Department). It was registered as an object codenamed TIM and the surveillance was made 16 times in the relevant period of time. The object then supplied reports and assessed the work of his surveillant colleagues. The object criticised their work while the surveillants assessed the object’s behaviour as not fully professional. A decision was therefore taken to make an in-depth analysis on both parties and issue the results in the Information Bulletin of Department IV.

The pictures that were published in the Bulletin should have proven the importance of appropriate masking of the surveillants and also emphasize the importance of proper use of advance information that would allow good preparation for forward surveillance. TIM was followed from his home address all along his journey to a dentist and back. The surveillants were successfully masked as a plumber, foresters, biker, policeman and a pregnant woman (see picture). TIM was continuously using counter-surveillance measures around himself, but the surveillants were masked so well that he did not notice their surveillance at all.

Collection A 25 (Surveillance Directorate of the SNB), inv. no 1016; Surveillance, 1976, Vol. 2, Suitable and Early Use of Means of Masking in an Action.