Did you know there were 693 security incidents this year so far, ranging from suspicious activity to crimes of robbery and burglary?
Robberies, burglaries, ATM crime, aggressive behaviour and theft are common in the world we live in and Post Office continues to focus on supporting Postmasters, branch teams and retail partners to help you stay safe and secure.
Here we speak to the Head of Security Operations, Mark Raymond, about what the security team do to protect our network and what you can do to make your branch a safer environment for you and your customers.
What do the Security Operations team do?
Any business that has retail or any financial service could be subject to some level of criminality, and the Post Office is no different. Incidents do occur, but they are thankfully rare.
The Security Operations team respond to incidents, for example a robbery or burglary, offering support and guidance and reviewing security measures. We work with law enforcement and industry experts, analysing intelligence on emerging threats to ensure we have the most effective security procedures and equipment.
Next week, we will release a short film highlighting how the Security Team and our partners work to keep our people safe, along with some safety and procedure tips.
You can contact our Security Managers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is the Security Team helping my branch?
The primary role of the Security Team is to protect Postmasters, their teams and customers, such as providing support and guidance on how to deal with abuse and aggressive behavior, which we saw more of during the Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year.
There are steps each branch could take to minimise risk of incidents. We work with Postmasters and carry out risk assessments and have strong communication processes to support our branches. The team will provide procedures, advice and solutions for various risks and types of criminality within our network of 11,500 branches. We also provide a variety of security equipment to protect people and to identify offenders. However, equipment is expensive so we have to make sure our most high risk branches are supported, but the team is there to provide guidance and advice to everyone.
We work with law enforcement on both a local and national level to help deter and detect crime and identify trends.
Earlier this year, we saw a series of incidents involving threatening letters and bomb threats sent to branches. The security team liaised with the recipients of the letters and law enforcement and circulated a number of communications with recommendations and advice.
What trends are we seeing?
As a result of Covid-19, we have seen a change in many crime types. Abuse and aggressive behaviour has seen an increase over the period, robberies have reduced and remained static, burglaries, similarly have reduced and remained static.
But now is more important than ever to stay alert, as evenings are now getting darker earlier, and this is the season when criminals take their chances.
Who do the Security Team work with?
In addition to the Police, we work closely with many partners from both public bodies and private industry. Our Intelligence Team gather information from a number of sources which enables the Security team to react to or minimise threats as quickly as possible.
Our partners include the Home Office, National Business Crime Centre, British Retail Consortium, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the NFSP, to mention but a few.
What can I do to make me and my team safer?
Following security manual advice and guidance is very important, as well as being aware of customers in your branch. Often crime is committed by opportunist thieves, who see a chance to steal, such as an unlocked door, safe or cash on view, so it is vital to make sure you always follow good security procedures and cash management processes.
Aggression and violence are rare but you should always prioritise your own safety. Don’t hesitate, use your panic alarm or ring 999.
I also encourage you and your team to register with our Grapevine service to report any criminal activity, suspicious behaviour, and incidents of violence or abuse. Grapevine will escalate incidents to the Post Office Security team who are able to provide you with expert help and support. Grapevine will also send text messages to other Postmasters in the area to alert them to any threat or crime committed.
You can contact Grapevine on 0345 603 4004 or via email to email@example.com