Betting shop operators and Merseyside Police will be launching a campaign “Robbery – Odds on you’ll get caught” on Tuesday 7th October, to drive home the message in the run up to Christmas that people who rob or commit a crime in a betting shop will be caught and jailed.

The event will see the launch ‘Gamble Watch’ where the police, environmental health, gambling commission, betting shops, amusment arcades and bingo halls are all working together to prevent business robberies and share information. 

Posters and leaflets will be distributed to every business of this type across Merseyside in the run to Christmas to educate staff on how to report suspicious behaviour and ensure they have maximum security measures in place.

This follows meetings between the police and betting shop to share information about incidents of crime and identify ways of working closely to tackle and prevent them from taking place.

The poster campaign will be launched by Merseyside Police and betting shop representatives at 11am on Tuesday 7th October 2014 at the junction of Church Street, Hanover Street and Ranelagh Street, before going to betting shops in the city to deliver the posters to staff.

Chief Inspector Jenny Sims, who is leading the police’s response to retail crime, said betting shops, convenience stores and off-licences were not the easy targets that criminals thought they were.

She said: “Criminals who target bookmakers are facing increasingly lengthy prison sentences for very little reward indeed. The betting industry and police in Merseyside work very closely together to ensure only the bare minimum amounts of cash are accessible at the premises and security measures are always used. The end result is that between April and August, we only had seven betting shops robbed in Merseyside and the amount stolen was around £50. However the offenders in those cases will face in the region of five or even ten years in prison when caught so my question to them would be: is it really worth it because the odds are you will get caught.”

The force has teamed up with all the large bookmakers in the county to launch ‘Gamble-watch’ where information about anything  from the latest security measures to how staff can better identify suspicious behaviour in their shops is shared and acted on.   

Ch Insp Sims added; “Business robberies are not victimless crimes. Many of our bookmakers are run by local people who just want to earn a living and provide for their families. The person serving behind the counter could be someone’s mum, sister or grandmother yet these criminals think nothing of pointing a gun at them and screaming at them to open the till or safe. Some of these people will be left permanently traumatised by such an incident so it is important that we keep working with the betting industry and the local communities where these criminals hide to continue to reduce the number of robberies here on Merseyside.”

Commenting, Peter Craske of the Association of British Bookmakers said:

“Betting shop operators want customers and staff to be as safe as possible and we are pleased to work with Merseyside Police on this campaign. We want to be clear – that if you try and rob a betting shop and put customers and staff at risk, the odds are you will be caught. 

This includes having high quality CCTV images which help the police catch criminals and provide evidence in court cases. All our members work to the guidelines set out in the Safe Bet Alliance, which is a national set of guidelines to prevent robberies of betting shops. The work of the alliance has won awards and been endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, and we want to work closely with the police and local authorities to protect our customers and staff.”

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