Police pledge that armed robbers will spend Christmas behind bars

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THE six North West police forces and the security industry have launched a joint operation to crackdown on armed robberies and target criminals in the run-up to Christmas.

The action will be co-ordinated by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (Titan), the regional collaboration to tackle serious and organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking, firearms, armed robberies, aggravated burglaries and other serious crimes.

Officers from Titan, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and North Wales, the British Security Industry Association, SaferCash and partner agencies will be working together to combat cash-in-transit robberies.

The campaign, launched last week, will see officers using high-visibility and covert patrols on the ground and in the air to escort security vehicles as they carry out their normal deliveries.

A number of other tactics will be used to prevent these robberies, including armed police vehicles escorting high-risk security vehicles as they carry out cash deliveries; overt and covert CCTV monitoring; patrol cars following cash-handling vehicles; plus all cash containers will include either Smartwater or a dye, which will be released when they are opened.

Initiatives to reduce cash-in-transit robberies have already been very successful in the region and this further proactive, co-ordinated approach sends a clear message to criminals that these attacks will not be tolerated.

The action follows significant success so far this year in combating cash-in-transit robberies with 27 offenders being convicted and sentenced to more than 335 years in prison.

Det.Chief Supt Paul Richardson, head of the Titan, said: “The North West has seen significant reductions in cash-in-transit robberies in recent years and our message to criminals contemplating carrying out these kind of crimes in the run-up to Christmas is clear - we will find you and we will make sure you spend your Christmas behind bars.

“Robberies targeting cash-in-transit vehicles, banks, post offices and commercial businesses are not victimless crimes and cause deep distress to those at the brunt of the attacks. In the majority of cases the offenders do not hesitate to use violence against innocent people which can result in life-changing mental and physical injuries.

“All of the police forces in the North West are committed to cracking down on the criminals who make the lives of people making an honest living in the security and commercial industries a misery.

“We will continue to use all the powers available to us to target these criminals, prevent offences and bring those responsible to justice.”

Two delivery drivers, who are partners on a cash-in-transit van making deliveries and collections across the North West, have been victims of armed robbery more than seven times and have spoken out about their experiences.

The guards, who wish to remain anonymous, were attacked most recently in April, although their worst attack was shortly before Christmas last year.

One of the guards, who is 43 and has been working on cash-in-transit vans for seven years during which time he has been attacked seven times, said: “I was in the van and my partner was in the shop where I saw them attack him with a machete. They swiped his helmet off and I thought they had killed him.

“It was by far the worst attack but we won’t give up a job we love because of these criminals.”

The other guard, who is 50 and has been working on cash-in-transit vans for 10 years during which he has been attacked eight times, added: “What the people who commit these offences don’t understand is that it’s not a victimless crime. We are real people with families and it’s not just the physical scars that need to heal.

“After an attack you are very wary. Everything makes you jump from doors banging to slight noises - it has a huge impact on your life.”

All North West police forces, in partnership with the security industries, will continue to share intelligence and provide assistance for cross-border deliveries throughout the campaign and in the following months.

Steve Hurst, of SaferCash, said: “Working with regional police forces and our partners we are determined to make the cash-handling industry as secure as possible.

“Cash-in-transit robberies do not only affect the security guards. They also affect their families as some victims of these often very violent attacks suffer terrible psychological effects and are unable to return to a job they once loved.

“We urge the public to help us combat these attacks by reporting any suspicious activity near to cash-in-transit vans, particularly in the busy run-up to Christmas.”

BSIA’s Chief Executive James Kelly added: “Cash-in-transit attacks, while often perceived as a business crime, are not victimless.

“Last year alone, more than 750 crew members were attacked while performing this essential public service, many suffering severe physical and psychological effects.

“Working alongside the Home Office and police forces across the country, BSIA members are seeing some positive results in combating this crime, however, only through the ongoing commitment of such effective partnerships will we continue to keep our couriers safe.”

Police are asking the public to be vigilant and help stop the violence by reporting any suspicious activity in the run-up to the festive season to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always call 999.