Last summer the Association of British Bookmakers updated the Safe Bet Alliance, the guidelines that set out ways to keep betting shop staff and customers as safe as possible from crime.
The document itself was drawn up in 2010 in partnership with Community Union, the Metropolitan Police, local authorities and the Institute of Conflict Management, and we were pleased to continue working with those organisations on updating the guidance.
The guidance includes standards for door designs and the use of electronic locks, keeping only minimal amounts of cash on the premises, time-delayed safes, creating secure areas of retreat and ensuring there is at least one CCTV camera that capture images of people arriving and leaving.
It has proved effective, and official police records now show that betting shops have among the lowest levels of crime compared to other high street retail sectors.
The initiative was endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers as an example of not only: “an effective tool for reducing violent crime, but also a clear example of best practice for partnership working. The collaboration of police, bookmakers and other key stakeholders has led to an initiative that has stood the test of time.”
The initiative continues to be recognised for its achievements – recently, it was a runner up in the Police Scotland Local Policing awards.
But we are not complacent, and we continue to make progress.
For example, we have recently renewed our partnership with Crimestoppers. Part of that work means we can offer a reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the conviction of someone who commits a crime in a betting shop or helps prevent one from taking place.
A recent example of this in action was when a Crimewatch appeal was broadcast last winter, regarding the robbery of a William Hill shop, where the leads have dried up. As a result of the TV appeal, new information came forward which lead to arrests and convictions.
We are working closely with police forces across the country, to tackle specific incidents and to get the wider message out that if you commit a robbery in a betting shop, the odds are you will get caught and convicted.
This is the theme of the campaign we have worked with Merseyside Police on, during the recent Cheltenham Festival and this week in the run up to the Grand National. This has seen the delivery of posters and leaflets to every betting shop across Merseyside.
Superintendent Jenny Sims, who is leading the force's response to all retail crime, 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.”