Bookmakers in the West of Scotland have received a boost with the launch of a campaign to tackle robberies at various premises in the area. Figures obtained by BBC Scotland from Strathclyde Police show that robberies at betting shops increased from 25 in 2012 to 33 in the first 11 months of the current year and there are MSPs that believe more needs to be done. Labour MSP John Park added that an industry-wide approach is needed to tackle the problem that has flared up since a campaign in 2008 led to a reduction.
“I intend to write to the cabinet secretary for justice, asking that the Scottish government convenes a meeting of all interested parties – particularly the betting shop companies and Community trade union – so that a strategic look can be taken at these figures for Strathclyde and others parts of the country,” Park said.
“If we can make that happen, I’m sure an industry-wide approach can be agreed that will tackle these problems head on.”
The Safe Bet Alliance in London was successful in lowering offences by 46% in 2010-11 by reducing availability of cash, new physical security measures and training staff to identify risk and act accordingly. Scotland is likely to get a plan similar to this with the additional problems of shops using lone workers likely to be tackled by the campaign. John Paul McHugh from The Community union representing betting shop workers on a nationwide basis said: “The union believes that until betting shops completely remove the operation of lone-person working and beef up all other measures, we will not deal with the vulnerability of workers in betting shops.”
Of the betting shops questioned, William Hill said their data conflicted with that of the police and that offences hadn’t increased at shops bearing the Hills brand. A spokesperson told the BBC: “We haven’t seen any increase. We launched a series of initiatives in 2010 after an overview of our security and it seems that they have had a positive impact because we succeeded in bucking the trend in Scotland
“The security of our staff and customers takes precedence and we are not intending to rest on our laurels.”
It must be said that CCTV and surveillance systems are advanced enough that offenders very rarely get away with it and most cases see someone locked up for the crime.