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Issue:- 1 December  2011

Cracking Down On Christmas Cash-In-Transit Robberies

THE 6 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 (BSIA), SaferCash and other partner agencies will be working together to combat cash-in-transit robberies.  The campaign that was launched on Thursday, 24 November 2011, will see officers using both 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 very 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.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Richardson, head of the NWROCU (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 2011, although their worst attack was shortly before Christmas 2010. 

One of the guards, who is 43 years old and has been working on cash-in-transit vans for seven years during which time he has been attacked 7 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, head 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.

Credit Easing for small businesses welcomed

MPs have welcomed the Chancellor’s ambitious announcement for up to £40bn in loans to cash strapped businesses as part of a wider package of measures to kick-start Britain’s struggling economy. Under the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS), the Government will underwrite the banks’ borrowing on financial markets to encourage them to provide cheaper loans to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). These savings will be passed on in the form of lower interest rates, encouraging them to invest, expand and employ more workers.  The Chancellor George Osborne argues that the policy allows small businesses to directly benefit from the government’s ‘AAA’ credit rating and the international credibility gained by the government’s austerity measures and attempts to reduce the structural deficit. A business taking a £5m loan could save £50,000 a year under the scheme, as the interest rate for borrowing will be reduced by 1%.John Leech, the Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington, welcomed the news, stating that:- "This measure will make credit more available for the small businesses that need it most. These SMEs can drive our economy forward, creating growth and jobs in Manchester and across the country. Talking to local businesses in the constituency it is clear that their major concern is that they are finding it impossible to borrow money from banks despite the government telling banks to lend. It is clear the chancellor has listened and now it should be easier for them to get the loan they need at a rate that will favour them."  Despite Labour’s criticism, the credit easing scheme has been welcomed by industry experts as a means of increasing liquidity and stimulating growth in this vital market. The plan is also set to include a clear audit trail so that success can be easily tracked, a failure that led to widespread criticism of Labour’s ‘Asset Purchasing Facility’, which Osborne has scrapped. The Chief Executive of the not-for-profit small business body the Forum of Private Business, Phil Orford, responded to Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, George Osborne also by saying:- "We welcome the announcement of 50% income tax relief and a 1 year capital gains holiday for those investing in start ups under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), but the Government should have acted to encourage private lenders too. Small firms need a range of funding options, and equity finance is certainly one of these, but lending at interest remains their preferred route by far. Combined with these tax breaks, the Government’s new credit easing scheme and an extended Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), providing incentives for new lenders to compete with the high-street banks would be more likely to boost competition in small business borrowing markets, driving up levels of service and bringing down costs. It is a shame this has not happened."  In its submission to the Chancellor ahead of the Autumn Statement, the Forum called for tax incentives for private lenders similar to the 30% tax relief available for equity investors under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). The Government also announced several measures on tax; specifically fuel duty and business rates. Mr Orford added:- "I think we have seen some tentative steps towards easing fuel duty and business rates, but we need to go much further and introduce real tax reforms in order to help them to grow and create jobs. The Government is extending the rate relief holiday by six months and allowing businesses to defer 60% of the RPI-linked business rate increase in 2012-13. This will help but it is not the freeze we asked for. Further, scrapping January’s 3p fuel duty rise completely and reducing the increase scheduled for August is good news but we wanted all fuel duty increases scheduled for 2012 to be postponed. There were a range of other announcements that we already knew a lot about, such as welcome reforms to employment law, including delaying implementing pension auto-enrolment and proposals to give business owners more freedom to make staffing decisions with less fear of being taken to a tribunal, and much-needed infrastructure investments. Education and skills was also high on the agenda. This will be a crucial area for growth; when firms are in a position to recruit in earnest again they will need a much stronger talent pool of skilled, young workers. We have also seen procurement proposals and incentives for mid-caps, but very little for micro businesses, which make up the majority of small firms in the UK and require special attention. Given their importance to plans for economic growth, this was an omission. Overall, small business finance; freeing firms’ cash flow by removing the cost barriers they face and improving levels of affordable commercial funding; remains the immediate priority. The Chancellor has taken some steps in the right direction, but he could have made much bolder strides to get Britain trading by providing more support for the smallest businesses."

The Steam Packet To Biuld On Strong Early TT2012 Bookings

WITH the number of motorcycles booked for TT2012 currently running 10% ahead of the same period last year, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is looking to boost visitor numbers even more by again introducing its popular ‘TT Taster Offer’.  The offer allows visiting fans to attend the TT Festival during the quieter Practice Week period for just £99 for a motorcycle and rider. This offer price has been held for the third consecutive year and can be booked online. For people also requiring accommodation, Steam Packet Holidays has joined forces with a number of Isle of Man hotels and have 3 night packages available from just £175 per person, which includes ferry travel with motorcycle and 3 nights’ bed and breakfast.  Enquiries and bookings can be made by calling:- 01624 645777. Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said:- "It is great that advance bookings for motorcycles are ahead of the same period last year and are indicative of the event’s increase in popularity. The TT Taster Offers have proved popular in the last couple of years and have helped boost visitor numbers during the festival’s quieter periods, therefore making a vital contribution to the local economy."

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