As the Cheltenham festival is well underway and the countdown is on to this year’s Aintree Festival, Merseyside Police is reminding would be robbers targeting betting shops it’s odds on they will be caught.
The campaign follows the successful launch of ‘Gamble Watch’, where the police, betting shops, the gambling commission, environmental health, amusement arcades and bingo halls all work closely together to share information and prevent business robberies.
Officers will be distributing posters and leaflets to every bookmakers in the area to remind staff to make sure they have all the necessary security measures in place. These measures include always holding a minimal amount of cash on the premises.
Superintendent Jenny Sims is leading the force’s response to all retail crime. She said: “Betting shops are not the easy targets that criminals in the past may have thought they were.
“We have been working closely with the industry over a number of months to introduce enhanced security measures and make sure that bookmakers hold the lowest possible amount of cash on the premises.
“The result of this work is that criminals who target betting shops are facing really lengthy prison sentences for very little, if any, reward. Since Gamblewatch was launched in October, more than 50% of robberies at betting shops on Merseyside have been unsuccessful and where cash has been stolen, the amounts have invariably been extrmely low. Robberies have been foiled by an array stringent security measures including fogging devices, forensic sprays, time delayed safes and locks and very high quality CCTV systems.
“My message is absolutely clear to would be offenders – you are facing five and possibly up to ten years in prison for virtually no return and the odds are you will get caught. We are targeting prolific offenders and will relentlessly pursue all those involved in this sort of crime until they are brought to justice and put before the courts.
Superintendent Sims added: “I also want to dispel the enduring myth that business robberies are victimless crimes. The people who work in bookmakers are invariably local people doing their best to make an honest living. They are often threatened with firearms and violence and many are left traumatised for long periods of time following their ordeals. Some never work again.
“This is why it is so important that we keep working with the betting industry and communities on Merseyside to crack down on this form of robbery.”
Peter Craske from the Association of British Bookmakers said: “The safety of betting shop staff and customers is of the upmost importance.
“We are pleased to build on our work with Merseyside Police in ensuring this remains the case during major events like Cheltenham and the Grand National, and all year round as well.
“We have a range of measures in place to prevent crime from taking place and our CCTV systems ensure good evidence of crimes being committed. It is an issue our staff take very seriously so be in no doubt, anyone who commits a crime in one of our shops will be caught.”
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