Councillor threatened at gunpoint backs Safe Bet campaign
Bookmakers - including a serving councillor who was held up at gun point - have backed our Safe Bet campaign for safer conditions for betting shop workers.
The Sutton Guardian launched the Safe Bet campaign last week following the conviction of murderer Shafiqe Aarij, who killed Cheam man Andrew Iacovou at the Morden branch of Ladbrokes where he worked in May.
Aarij, who is likely to face at least 30 years in prison for killing the 55-year-old father-of-three, planned to rob the Aberconway Road bookmaker and knew Mr Iacovou would be alone when he went into the shop armed with a knife and a hammer.
Mr Iacovou pressed a panic alarm but Aarij bludgeoned him over the head with a hammer. No one responded to the alarm and Mr Iacovou was left to die on the floor of the shop.
Father of three Andrew Iacovou died on the floor of Ladbrokes in Aberconway Road, Morden
The Sutton Guardian, together with its sister paper the Wimbledon Guardian, is now calling on the betting industry to do more to protect its staff.
We say bookmakers must end the routine practice of 'single manning', where staff have to work alone, and making sure panic alarms are monitored.
Among them is Sutton Councillor John Keys, a former betting shop worker, who recalled working in a branch in central London when several men burst in brandishing guns.
He said: "Three of them came in with guns and smashed the security screens.
"Two of them stayed by the door while one of them came behind the counter and held a gun to my head. Two of them had guns and the other had a baseball bat.
"That's the sort of thing that can happen at any time and it is why betting shops need to show more support to their staff.
"Workers shouldn't be left alone and obvious CCTV is a must. They should have centralised, monitored CCTV.
"They also shouldn't operate such long hours. Now they are open from 8am to 10 pm with workers being on their own at the quietest times of day when they are most at risk.
"They should open at 10am and close at 6pm like they used to."
Since launching the drive last week, more than 50 people have signed our online petition including several bookmakers.
Other current betting shop workers have also been in touch. One, who asked not to be named, said: "You wouldn't expect to walk in to a bank, building society or post office and see it staffed by one person so why betting shops?
"Not only are bookies just as prone to robbery as financial premises they also experience a far higher level of anti-social behaviour due to the nature of the business so staff should never be forced to work alone."
- Sign our petition to demand all bookmakers have a minimum of two workers on site at all times.
- Do you work in a betting shop? We want to hear from you. Anything we publish can be kept anonymous if you wish.
- Contact us on 020 8722 6350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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