Betting firms have been successfully operating in the UK for over 50 years. The industry employs over 40,000 people who serve around 8 million customers a year. Betting shops are synonymous with the high-street, though staying open later than their neighbouring shops.
Naturally, with large amounts of cash on site, betting shops are affected by crimes against their staff. These range from verbal abuse to physical assaults and armed robberies. Violence has continued to rise over the past few years and FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals) have taken a large portion of the blame, due to the nature of the high stakes that can be lost in quick time.
This has a serious impact on the well-being of employees, not least in shops that are commonly ‘single-manned’. In an attempt to address concerns, The Association of British Bookmakers launched the Safe Bet Alliance (SBA). A voluntary code of safety and security standards for bookmakers. Implementing the measures provided in the SBA is designed to help protect both staff and customers.
The SBA is a collaboration of ideas from the Metropolitan Police, The Community Union, The Institute of Conflict Management and Crimestoppers. Since its launch in 2010, the number of robberies fell by 60% in London. It won the Home Office Tilley Award for acquisitive crime reduction.
Primary Safety Measures
According to the SBA, implementation of their recommended primary safety measures would help to prevent crime or become a deterrent. For example;
- The entrance door should be of sound construction and with locking mechanisms that meets BSI standards.
- Furniture must be secured to the floor so it cannot be used as a projectile.
- All CCTV cameras must be in good working order and capable of obtaining images of people entering and leaving the premises.
- Implementing cash minimisation strategies with the help of a hidden second safe.
The SBA Recommends
The SBA also provide extensive safety measures for staff members that work in the store and some of these are the following:
- Training. It’s important to provide all staff and operational managers with training that covers security practice and procedure, robbery awareness and dealing with violence in the workplace.
- Safety alarms. The SBA recommend hold-up alarms be installed within the store. An alternative is for staff members carry personal alarms such as Guardian24’s MicroGuard. These are becoming increasingly popular with Bookmakers to safeguard their staff in the event of an emergency. They are designed to summon urgent Police assistance when aggressive or unacceptable behaviour is apparent. As soon as the alarm is raised, trained Controllers at Guardian24’s Alarm Receiving Centre will be able to provide assistance and instantly know where the incident is taking place. A mobile alarm is advantageous to it’s fixed alarm counterpart as it allows the user to freely move away from the desk where the panic button is located. Help can be called for in any location – that could even be on a cash run from the site.
- Security screens. This will act as a barrier to stop access to the cash behind the counter and it would also prevent assaults targeted towards staff.
- Secure areas of retreat. It is often safe for staff to retreat to a secure area if a potential assailant is getting aggravated or abusive. This area must be fit for purpose with the means of outside communication.
Along with the above safety measures, the SBA also suggests that staff should be encouraged to provide excellent customer service, be vigilant at all times to prevent crime early on and report all incidents in the Incident Report Log, as the vital record of suspicious people or vehicles will help towards all investigations.