Bobby Logue of talks exclusively with Kevin O’Connor: CIT Robbery – A victimless crime?

Kevin O'Connor
Kevin O'Connor

Cash in Transit (CIT) robbery has, in the past, been seen as a victimless crime limited in its impact to the industry and its clients. talks exclusively to Kevin O’Connor, Risk Director at G4S Cash Solutions UK, about research recently conducted by the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science (JDI) and what it means for the CIT industry.

What prompted this research to be commissioned and what were its objectives?

For a number of years now there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence that far from being an isolated activity, CIT attacks are often associated with a much wider range of criminal activities. For instance, the vehicle used during an attack is likely to be stolen, either from the roadside or as a result of a house break-in, and bearing false number plates to counter ANPR technology – that’s two, possibly three crimes committed already. Following on, the proceeds from a CIT attack will often be used to fund gun or drug crime, further impacting on the community in which these criminals operate.

In order to gain greater clarity on these activities and to maximise the effectiveness of the working groups and initiatives designed to counter CIT crime, the CIT industry and Home Office commissioned a research project from the JDI on “Understanding the Harms of Cash and Valuables in Transit (CVIT) Robbery”.

If offenders view CIT robbery as a victimless crime, how can this perception be changed?

The results of the JDI research were certainly interesting, confirming that the CIT criminal simply doesn’t factor the courier into the crime when considering possible consequences. In fact on questioning, criminals seemed to feel that any harm caused to the courier was their own fault. It’s unsurprising then to find that convicted CIT criminals express surprise at the length of sentences being handed out, with the average currently standing at four and a half years.

The seriousness with which the courts treat CIT attacks is in part due to the increased awareness of the human impact this type of crime has. Victim Impact Statements are now integrated into court. The argument that a CIT courier, who provides an essential service to the public, has an equal right to be able to go about their work in safety, is certainly gaining wider support. With the JDI research providing clear evidence highlighting the true impact of CIT crime we hope to see the courts take this into account when considering the level of sentence to be imposed.

What other trends did the research show that help you understand the nature of CIT crime?

What was particularly interesting to see, for those of us in the business of anticipating and countering CIT crime was what was termed as a ‘spatio-temporal’ pattern for CIT crimes. This lies at the heart of why we see attack hotspots flare up rapidly. Once one successful attack has occurred, that area will quickly be targeted by criminals looking to exploit any weakness as yet unaddressed in that region. This intelligence on where and how a hotspot develops is vital to being able to anticipate and counter further CIT attacks.

How can the industry work with customers to reduce the number of CIT robberies and how has the research assisted in this process?

Working in partnership with customers is key to successfully mitigating the risks associated with providing cash services. We’ve had significant success with a range of retailers and financial institutes, instigating new procedures and technology on a collaborative basis to increase the security of our couriers, retail and bank staff and their customers. Our work within the retail sector has provided us with a working model that is now being adopted by other national retailers, while we are seeing more and more high street banks investing in new designs, procedures and technology to counter ATM crime.

The JDI research has given us firm evidence upon which to continue the good work with industry associations like the BBA (British Bankers Association) and BRC (British Retail Consortium) on developing best practice guidelines to counter CIT crime. It has also given us evidence of a wider portfolio of crimes occurring around a CIT attack that directly impact on local communities. This allows us to engage more effectively with the public, gaining wider understanding of both the human and community impact of attacks on CIT couriers.

Does technology still have a role to play in deterring the criminals from targeting CIT couriers?

Technology and design improvements will always have a significant role in countering CIT crime and we’ve seen significant reductions across the board as a result of recent developments in this area. As the first operator to deploy glue technology in our cash boxes we are already seeing evidence of awareness in the criminal community that this new technology really does make CIT crime worthless.

Of course it’s not just about technology and we constantly strive to strike the right balance with training, stakeholder engagement and shared intelligence programmes – all of which are essential to successfully tackling CIT crime. We have recently developed industry standards in courier training, helping them to develop greater risk awareness and gain techniques to deploy in the event of an attack. In addition to this, continued stakeholder engagement with bodies such as the Home Office, BRC, BBA, BOSS and the GMB remains vital to developing effective working partnerships. It’s this balanced approach that will continue to deliver results in our efforts to counter CIT crime.

What does the future hold for cash in transit services?

CIT will undoubtedly remain a tough operating environment and I truly believe that collaboration is the key. The recent introduction of SaferCash2, an industry funded intelligence model, is already assisting in cross-force collaboration for the police. By providing full intelligence packages, including analysis of criminal behaviour patterns and practices, we are able to provide significant support to UK police forces in deciding how best to deploy vital resources to counter CIT crime and it’s associated criminal activities.

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