Who is at Fault for Armed Robbery?
By Gamal Newry
Jun 1, 2011 - 9:11:37 AM
Recently the city of Nassau was shocked to hear of a bold daytime robbery of a major department store on Bay Street. The location was not so much an issue as there have been numerous criminal incidents on Bay Street. What shocked the town was that this event occurred at about 10am on a Sunday morning. In a recent letter to the editor of the Tribune the writer implies that the police have come under unfair criticism for the apparent lack of presence on Bay Street that may have contributed to the success of this robbery.
Patrols whether on foot or via motor vehicles, by way of police or security personnel are intended to deter potential law breakers and observe potential safety hazards. This along with post duties are probably some of the oldest functions of law enforcement and security services. The implementing of the patrol function should not be haphazard or random. It must be properly planned taking into account time of day, area to be focused on, and especially the occupants and individuals frequenting the area. With this said I reference you to an article I wrote back in May 2009 that appeared in this same publication, referring to the apparent practice of the police to reduce deployment on Sundays. In my article I write of a drive from the Carmichael Road area out to Lyford Cay to the Cable Beach Strip, Downtown and out East and not seeing any police on patrol.
The absence or lack thereof of police patrols regardless of the defense put forward does in my opinion increase opportunities for criminality. The police via their profession must take some responsibility for the level of crime in our society, but in this instance so must the Ministry of Tourism and the affected business. However, and this is a very important however, it is the primarily responsibility of the business owner or individual to take the necessary precautions to ensure that they are protected.
Being quite aware of the various risks concerning or related to their business, one must ask the question is enough being done to prevent crime. They have invited persons into their establishment, and must endeavor to do their best to ensure that the location is safe and secure. Thus my concern is that there has been very little or no criticism of the efforts being taken by local business owners, on Bay Street or where ever, to implement adequate preventative measures.
Further, what are the security requirements for operating a particular business? Here again is an opportunity for government to legislate certain criteria that a business owner must implement as it regards to loss prevention. We cannot simply allow persons affected by crime to get away with blaming the police, government and the criminals, they are not in my opinion sufficiently chastised or mandated to take certain precautions.
Preventative Measures in loss prevention is much more than hiring an armed off-duty police officer. Loss prevention's best practice demands a multilayered approach to safeguarding assets. These layers include but are not limited to:
Security and Crime Risk Assessment
A vital and fundamental first step in any effort to protecting your business that is too often overlooked or conducted with major focus on crime risk and negating the security risks. You have heard me say many times via this column that there are some elementary differences between policing and security. Essentially security is proactive with its major focus on prevention, whereas policing is reactive with a major focus on detection and apprehension. The assessment is a review of your business type, operating hours, location, and policies, with the intent of providing both proactive and reactive strategies.
Initial and Continuous Employee Backgrounds Checking
This initiative is not given much attention after employment, many business owners do not consider that circumstances, finances and ethics can change over the course of the relationship with the organization. These checks should also extend to the service providers, be they the cleaners or the water delivery guy. All of these persons including staff have access to your proprietary information, security practices and business operations. Within reason you need to become intimately knowledgeable of your staff and who they associate with off hours.
Doors, windows, locks, showcases, decorations etc., all speak to the infrastructure and also how items are placed in the space you occupy. A better known concept is called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and is the science of placement, angles, and lighting to influence movement and actions for better visibility and surveillance. The attractiveness for customers must be weighed against the perception it may possibly give to would-be criminals.
This is a vital element of any modern protection program for one simple reason. They are active 24 hours a day and do not take breaks. These systems have become so sophisticated that you can now have alerts emailed to your smart phone inclusive of video. These devices can be placed into 3 major categories.
Intrusion Detection – these are devices such as motion sensors and glass breaks that advise that a restricted or secure area has be accessed.
Panics – This is the device used to alert police and other response personnel that an emergency event is or has occurred. These devices are usually placed at key locations in the business and can be silent or alarm notification. It is very important that a policy on when to activate these alarms is developed and practice as they can also increase risk
CCTV – The ever popular camera system. No other device in my opinion in the last 15 years has been given more attention and perceived to be the ‘magic bullet’ regarding security and safety. Much of the perceived ability of a surveillance system is myth, thus giving rise to unrealistic outcomes. In any event these devices must be trained on staff and customers alike, taking into account panoramas, lighting, camera speed and amount of memory necessary.
This component speaks to not only to who enters your business but also how they move in and around your location. The concept has also evolved to what they are able to see be it business operations, the location of cameras, and vaults. A very difficult layer to manage if you are open to the public coming in and browsing your goods, however staff and yourself should be trained to observe for suspicious individuals and behavior.
A very vital layer as it helps staff to understand the role they play in ensuring a safe working environment. This education must be ongoing, timely, and exciting. There is a vast amount of topics that can be covered from responding to robberies, opening and closing procedures and the importance of confidentiality. The drive of this practice is to develop a team approach to loss prevention and asset protection. This should also include visible signage, and regularly review policies and procedures. The training can be formal via discussions during staff meetings, seminars and workshops or informal via informative fliers posted in staff rooms and notice boards.
Knowledge is power and business owners must be empowered with comprehensive strategies and tactics to reducing their exposure to crime. The fact of the matter is the blame game is not beneficial to any of us in these current conditions just as the layers I mention above, solutions must be multidiscipline with persons contributing to the crime reduction efforts. The police are working but there job becomes more difficult when poor operational practices and apparent disregard become major factors in creating opportunities for crime.
Gamal Newry is the president of Preventative Measures, a loss prevention and asset protection training and consulting company, specializing in policy and procedure development, business security reviews and audits, and emergency and crisis management. Comments can be sent to PO Box N-3154 Nassau, Bahamas, or e-mail email@example.com or visit us at www.preventativemeasures.org
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