Keep Us Safe; BOOKIE SHOP SAFETY PLEA

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Byline: BY PETER YOUNG Political Editor

COUNCIL leaders are being urged to back betting shop workers fighting for improved safety following a spate of armed robberies.

Union leaders are calling upon bookmakers to adopt minimum standards to improve security for shop staff.

Nearly 20 bookmakers' shops across the North East have been targeted this year. Staff have been threatened with weapons including guns and machetes.

Measures being called for by the trade union Community include an end to staff working alone and safer methods for banking and carrying cash.

They want more CCTV, magnetic locking systems and panic alarms, posters warning against anti-social behaviour, risk assessments in shops open late, and a register of nuisance customers who could then be banned.

The problem will be debated at Liberal Democrat-controlled Newcastle City Council tomorrow, when Labour opposition leader Coun Nick Forbes will call for support for people working in the industry.

Coun Forbes says the council should use the licensing system to ensure every betting shop in the city has measures in place to protect staff and proposes limiting the opening hours of those that don't. …