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Business crime: cash in transit

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt is pictured speaking at the London business crime reduction conference at the Hippodrome on November 16.

Mark Rowe writes: sometimes it’s helpful to take a longer perspective and reflect on changes – including those for the better. A Met Police designing out crime officer (DOCO) made the point to Professional Security after the event how car parks had improved in security and feel, thanks to design and other improvements, such as the Park Mark accreditation standard, administered by the British Parking Association. Another was aired by AC Martin Hewitt in his talk, as the most senior Met man to speak at the conference, when he recalled crimes against cash in transit (CIT), once ‘out of control’.

He recalled the robberies against CIT affecting big supermarkets and banks, ‘and quite frankly we were spending a fortune running around, playing cops and robbers, pretty unsuccessfully’. With the private security sector, the authorities brought in Operation Vanguard, and ‘Safer Cash’, ‘and we got a system up and running and transformed that criminality. That criminality hardly happens in London at all now, and the person that perpetrates that crime is unusually stupid because they are going to get a big plastic suitcase [the CIT delivery box] that they may not be able to open, but even if they do, it’s got a tracking device in it and if they manage to get rid of the tracking device they just have a load of useless paper,” that is, because of forensic marking devices that spoil the banknotes if stolen, “and they [the robbers] are almost invariably going to get caught and go to prison. Most if not all of that effort was done by business; fundamentally, it was the businesses that did that.”

Some of the work was around managing cash movements in the city; and training of staff. Some of the changes to prevent robberies was counter-intuitive; it was found better to have one security guard on a van than two. While you might think that a pair of CIT guards would deter robbers more than one, the police found that one person would be more alert, and will do drills; whereas two people working a van would allow the scenario where robbers could capture the one CIT person outside the vehicle, and thus threaten the one inside the van to release the cash.

As AC Hewitt said, the CIT crime was costing millions – not only in the losses to the wider economy, but overtime work by the police. “And we pretty much eradicated it by working together, but having the same objective and everybody doing their bit. That to me is the perfect story.”

For more about ‘Safer Cash’, visit the BSIA website.


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