All extracts are taken from the “Safer Doors” book. Published by Geddes and Grossett. Copyright laws apply.
Any premises that regularly handles large quantities of cash when it is open for business could be the target of a robbery. Such robberies can be in the form of professional armed-robberies, but in the night club environment is more likely to be a violent till-snatch.
Certainly most night clubs have a till area near the entrance where a member of staff takes the entrance fees from customers as they enter. This is the most obvious target for a robbery, with the possibility of the perpetrators getting away with a large amount of cash in a very short space of time.
Professional armed-robbers have usually properly researched the premises, and know exactly what they are after and how they are going to get it. They would know exactly who they will have to get past to reach the money, and would normally be aware of all of the security procedures and devices put in place to prevent such an attack. These types of professional criminals will very often carry firearms during a raid in an attempt to prevent anyone from trying to stop them from committing the offence. They will usually appear very calm and disciplined in everything that they do and say.
Amateur or opportunist robbers, on the other hand, may never have committed such an offence before, and will probably be doing it on the spur of the moment. They may be trying to steal the company’s money in an act of desperation, and may well be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, or even both. These types of people can be especially dangerous because they will be under severe stress at the time of the robbery, and may be very unpredictable. They may panic if their plan does not work, and could well turn to violence in an effort to effect their purpose.
There is also the possibility of a mentally disturbed person attempting to rob the premises, who may again be very unpredictable and/or violent.
All of the above mentioned types of criminals can be dangerous for different reasons, so it is the threat of staff or customers being injured or even killed during a robbery which is more worrying than the theft of the money itself.
For this reason it is important that all members of staff are properly trained in :-
- Robbery prevention measures
- What to do in the event of a robbery on the premises
- What action to take after a robbery has taken place in order to help the police in catching the suspects and securing a successful prosecution in court.
This section is aimed at assisting door supervisors at licensed premises in formulating their own robbery prevention techniques in conjunction with the management, and to advise them on how best to react during and after a robbery situation at the premises where they are working.
ROBBERY PREVENTION MEASURES
No licensed premises can make itself that secure that it is impossible to rob it, but there are some basic measures which will make it a less attractive place to attack. The majority of the measures listed here will be up to the management to put into place, but door supervisors should be aware of them so that they can give the appropriate advice if and when it is required.
The till area should be situated a short way back from the entrance to the premises, with the door supervisors in between the front door and the cashier. This shows an immediate barrier between the would-be robber and the contents of the till.
Highly visible CCTV cameras overlooking the till area may also deter suspects from doing anything where they may be identified on video at a later date. (even dummy cameras can work)
Display signs informing customers that there are anti-robbery devices operating on the premises, such as time-lock safes, security cameras and regular emptying of the till.
Do not allow large amounts of cash to build up in the till over the evening. Regular transfers of money from the till to a proper safe will ensure that if the till is robbed, the financial loss will be kept to a minimum.
If possible a secure lock-box should be installed within the till area so that the cashier can deposit quantities of cash at regular intervals into it, keeping the amount in the till to a minimum.
Cashiers should be advised not to count money in view of members of the public as this only draws unwanted attention to how much cash there is in the till. Cashing-up should be done in an office out of sight.
Cashiers should not be left at front of house unaccompanied at any time.
Try to be discreet when moving large amounts of money to an office to be counted. It is not desirable or necessary for the public to know where all of the cash is kept.
All doors to such offices and other private areas should be kept locked at all times.
Installing anti-grab till screens around the till drawer makes it difficult for anyone to take cash out of the till from the other side of the counter.
A panic alarm fitted either under the counter or in the till will enable the cashier to alert other members of the security team or the police as a robbery is being committed. If the alarm is silent then the robber does not even know that it has been activated, but help has already been summoned.
If door supervisors or any other members of staff are suspicious of someone hanging around the premises, or anyone showing a particular interest in the till area, then the police should be called immediately to check the person out.
The Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) at the local police station would be happy to do a security survey on the premises, and to advise on any procedures or equipment he thinks necessary to prevent robbery.
WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF A ROBBERY
All of the prevention measures in the world will not stop the truly determined or the opportunist robber from attempting to attack your premises, so it is important for the personal safety of all members of staff and any customers who may be nearby that certain procedures be followed in the event of a robbery taking place. People will look to the door supervisors for protection and guidance in times of emergency, so you need to be aware of the best course of action to take should someone make an attempt at robbing the premises.
- No attempts should be made to fight, stop or detain the robber unless you are absolutely sure that it is safe for you and for those around you to do so. No amount of cash is worth risking the life of a door supervisor or a member of the public for.
- Always co-operate with the robber as he is unlikely to hurt anyone if he gets what he wants.
- Do not show any form of resistance or hostility towards him, as this may frighten him into taking more extreme measures to get the money.
- Try to keep the time it takes for the robber to leave the premises to a minimum. The longer he is there the more desperate and frightened he will become.
- Do not try to rationalise with the robber or try to get him to change his mind as he will probably see this as a tactic to keep him on the premises longer, thereby increasing his chances of capture.
- Try to avoid any sudden movements which may be misconstrued by the robber.
- Warn the robber of any possible surprises such as the expected arrival of other members of the door team which he may think have come to prevent him from effecting his purpose.
- Do not stare at the robber as this may antagonise him.
- Try, without the robber noticing, to remember as much of a description of him as you can. Note particularly his height, weight, build and any other non-changeable characteristics such as voice, accent, eye colour, facial features, scars, tattoos, descriptions of any weapons shown and any particular phrases or sayings that the robber uses. Details of his clothing at the time of the robbery will assist the police during an immediate area search for the suspect as well.
- Cashiers should, if given a bag to fill with cash, start to fill it with the coins first, then move onto the notes. These should not be placed in the bag in neat piles as crumpled fistfuls of notes will make the bag appear fuller quicker. If the robber gets frightened and leaves before the till is completely empty then this procedure may reduce the company’s financial loss.
- If a silent alarm is installed behind the counter then it should only be activated if the cashier is sure that the robber will not notice it being done.
- The robber’s direction of escape should be noted for the police, and any index number of a getaway vehicle must be written down as soon as possible.
- The police must be called as soon as the robber leaves the premises.
- Door supervisors should not chase or follow the robber away from the premises unless they are absolutely sure that it is safe to do so. Armed-robbers should not be followed as they may turn back to attack their pursuers.
ACTION TO BE TAKEN AFTER A ROBBERY
The first priority following a robbery on the premises must be the well-being of customers and other members of staff who were present during the incident, particularly anyone who may be injured as a result of the attack. Contacting the police and assisting with scene preservation comes next, followed by making as detailed an account as possible of the incident whilst the details are still fresh in your mind. The following list is intended as a reminder of the tasks and priorities to be made immediately after a robbery at the premises.
- The police must be called as soon as the robber has left the premises. The sooner they are alerted to what has happened the sooner they can start to search for the robber, and then attend the scene to assist the door team.
- Call for an ambulance at the same time if any of the staff or customers have been injured during the robbery. Administer first aid to anyone who needs it until it arrives. Be observant for anyone showing signs of shock after the incident, and treat accordingly.
- Preserve the scene for the police. Vital evidence can be lost during the first few minutes following a robbery, so door supervisors need to take charge of the scene as soon as possible. Ensure that nothing is touched or moved, and try to identify anything that the robber has touched so that it may be preserved for fingerprints.
- Ask any witnesses to remain at the scene until the police arrive. Anyone insisting on leaving should be asked for their name and address before they go, so that the police can speak to them at a later stage.
- On arrival of the police you should give them a brief oral account of what happened, and show them to any items or areas you have preserved for their examination.
- The cashier should be asked to work out how much money was taken during the robbery and in what denominations, so that the information can be passed to the police. If the till was touched by the robber, however, this task should be left until it has been properly examined by the police.
- If a CCTV system is in operation at the premises it should be brought to the attention of the police so that the video tape can be seized as evidence.
- Take time as soon as you can to sit down and write notes of everything you can remember about the incident. What was said and done by the robber, his description and any other detail that you can remember. Use sketches if you find it useful. You will remember far more details about the incident immediately after it than you will just a couple of hours afterwards. As many witnesses as possible should be encouraged to do the same, independently of each other. When the police get round to taking full statements about the robbery from all of the witnesses they will get a much fuller and probably more accurate account of what happened if everyone has had a chance to make notes soon after the incident.
- Do not give out information about the robbery to any outside agencies such as the press until you have been authorised to do so by the police. To do so may hinder their investigation and lessen the chances of the robber being caught.
Being involved in a robbery, particularly a violent one, can be a traumatic experience for anyone. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the stress, but few people can remain totally unaffected. If necessary the police can refer victims to professional counsellors through the Victim Support Scheme. If you or anyone that you work with requires any support or help following such an incident, you should in the first instance contact the officer in charge of the case.
If you or the management of the premises need any more help or advice on how to make yourself, other members of staff or your premises more secure, then you should contact the Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station.