7 February 2018

Clubs call for more police to deal with armed robbery 'epidemic'

| Ian Bushnell
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Raiders Weston Club was robbed again this week. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Clubs are becoming increasingly exasperated with what they call a growing epidemic of armed robberies in the ACT, and are calling on the Government, police and the business community to come together to tackle the problem.

ClubsACT believes it is only a matter of time before a club staff member or patron is seriously injured, or even killed, unless more is done – including boosting police resources – to address the issue.

ClubsACT chief executive Gwyn Rees said the most recent robbery occurred early Tuesday morning, with thieves targeting a staff member of Raiders Weston after closing and forcing their way into the club and making off with cash.

“In the past 12 months, our local clubs have been the victims of robbers 20 times, in eight instances the offenders were armed. Staff and patrons face the daily risk of being confronted by a dangerous criminal holding a taser, knife or gun,” he said.

Mr Rees said more police resources were needed to boost patrols, respond effectively to calls and deter offenders, as well as bring them to justice.

The AFP Association believes Canberra needs an extra 200 police. Figures show Canberra has 680 police or 170 per 100,000, far fewer than NSW with 215 per 100,000 and Victoria (225). The Victorian Government has also pledged to boost police numbers by 20 per cent.

Armed robbery of Lanyon Vikings Club last October (still from CCTV footage).

Mr Rees said clubs were implementing more measures, including all-night security, early lockdowns, and facial recognition technology. Some clubs are even considering changing their operating hours. But he fears that as clubs harden their targets, criminals will look to other businesses.

“Without additional resourcing to get more police out on the streets, the threat of armed violence and theft remains worryingly real for those working in our local clubs. And our clubs are not alone, many other ACT businesses have also been the victim of armed criminals, such as local supermarkets, pharmacies and liquor stores,” he said.

“Clubs have taken all reasonable steps to keep their staff and patrons safe and deter thieves. Many of the security precautions they have implanted were devised with the advice of police, and we
thank them for this.
“However, this terrifying problem persists, and we would like more funding channeled to policing in the ACT to fight this crime wave and protect Canberra citizens.”

Mr Rees said statistics from the ACT Policing 2016-17 annual report showed armed robberies were on the increase and only around a quarter of offenders brought to justice.

He said ClubsACT was calling for a forum with the ACT Police Minister, the ACT Chief Police Officer, representatives from all clubs in the ACT, and from other impacted sectors and businesses to develop initiatives to tackle this growing epidemic.

Do you think increasing police numbers will help curb this ‘epidemic’? Share your thoughts with us by commenting below.

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