Industry focus: Betting shop safety comes under spotlight

Industry focus: Betting shop safety comes under spotlight

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 Totally Gaming
CCTV cameras are standard in betting shops

One of the UK’s biggest bookmakers is in the process of a full review of its security policies after an alleged sexual assault on a female member of staff.

The woman was treated in hospital after the incident earlier this month, with the premises closed while officers forensically examined the scene.

Two men, aged 43 and 50, have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and serious sexual assault. The woman was working alone at about 10.30pm.

A spokesman for the company – which we have not named for legal reasons – told TotallyGaming.com that security for employees is paramount.

“These incidents are rare - but like all cash businesses we can be a target and robberies do occur occasionally,” the spokesman told TotallyGaming.com. “Colleagues are trained in security matters and how to manage lone working.

“Shops are risk assessed as are individuals before they are allowed to lone work. Panic alarms, magnetic locks and 24/7 CCTV linked to a central security room all provide an overall package of security measures.”

The company is considering its procedures and will also consult with the Safe Bet Alliance (SBA), the Association of British Bookmakers’ (ABB) group that aims to make the UK’s betting shops safer for staff and customers.

“Where there is an incident of this nature and in line with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations there is a review of our policies and procedures,” the spokesman said.

“Pending that we will also liaise with others in the industry through the SBA to look at the common standards on safety that exist and whether any review is required across the industry.”

The SBA was launched in 2010, with the number of robberies at betting shops in London falling by 60 per cent in the following two years.

Last summer, SBA guidelines were updated in association with Community Union, the Metropolitan Police, local authorities and the Institute of Conflict Management. 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.

An ABB spokesman said: “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.”

However, critics believe that single staffing is a major problem, with Islwyn Member of Parliament (MP) Chris Evans, who claims to have worked in a betting shop as a student, last year calling for a national charter so workers feel better protected.

Evans said: "I was always on my own working. It was mostly verbal abuse and low-level abuse, like pens being thrown - there was the undercurrent of violence. You're vulnerable when you're on your own and it could always escalate.”

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