'Fantastic' SafeBet campaign praised in Parliament

Sutton Guardian: Andrew Iacovou with his wife Anita and two of his three sons Andrew Iacovou with his wife Anita and two of his three sons

Our "fantastic" SafeBet campaign to improve safety conditions for betting shop workers has been raised in Parliament.

Chris Evans MP, who represents a constituency in Wales and is a former betting shop worker, raised SafeBet during a Westminster Hall debate into the practice of allowing betting shops to operate with just one member of staff.

Sutton Guardian: Shafique Aarij

A judge called problem gambler Shafique Aarij a "cool, calm and collected" killer

We launched the SafeBet campaign last year after the murder of Cheam father of three Andrew Iacovou as he worked at a bookmaker in Morden.

Mr Iacovou was alone in the shop when killer Shafique Aarij bludgeoned him over the head with a hammer in a bungled robbery in May last year. Aarij was jailed for life in November.

The SafeBet campaign was launched to make sure something positive can come from Mr Iacovou's death and we are calling on the betting industry to improve conditions for its workers.

SafeBet has been backed by Mr Iacovou's widow Anita as well as local MPs Paul Burstow and Tom Brake.

Mr Brake raised the issue with Islwyn Labour MP Mr Evans who raised it in front of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Helen Grant during a debate last week.

He said: "I left the betting industry some 14 years ago and had assumed that the practice of single staffing had ended.

"I was therefore shocked to learn that it is still going on, which I why called for this debate.

"Over the past few weeks and months, I have read about an increasing number of cases where betting shop workers have been attacked, assaulted and tragically even murdered.

"There are also some fantastic campaigns that are working to draw attention to the problems caused by lone working.

"The Sutton Guardian recently launched its SafeBet campaign to fight for safer conditions for betting shop workers.

"Campaigns such as that are extremely important if we are to get the betting industry to respond positively to the problems."

He said he wanted the betting industry to come up with a self-regulation programme to make sure workers are not placed at risk.

The call was backed by Mrs Grant who said: "I expect all bookmakers to properly assess the appropriateness of single staffing as part of their business operations."

The aim of a Westminster Hall debate is to raise awareness of an issue before it can be raised in the House of Commons.

Mr Brake is planning to call betting shop bosses to a meeting to discuss staff safety in the House of Commons.

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