Today, we launch our Safe Bet campaign - aimed at encouraging the betting shop industry to improve conditions for its workers and ensure the death of worker Andrew Iacovou is not in vain.

A jury took just 49 minutes to convict Shafique Ahmad Aarij of the brutal murder of  Andrew Iacovou, from Cheam, at the Morden betting shop he managed.

The homeless 21-year-old knew father-of-three Mr Iacovou would be working alone when he went to Ladbrokes in Aberconway Road armed with a hammer and a knife with the intention of robbing the bookmaker shortly before 8.30am on Saturday, May 25.

This Is Local London: Police want to speak to anyone who knows who this man is

Shafique Aarij left the betting shop covered in blood

Regular gambler Aarij was already under observation at a Tooting bookmaker because of unusual bets and used a routine he practised the previous day to get Mr Iacovou, of Church Hill Road, Cheam.

He opened the door to the secure area behind the counter before bursting in and hitting him over the head up to 10 times with the hammer.

Aarij planned his robbery knowing that Mr Iacovou would be alone and if he told him there was a problem at the front of the shop he would have to come out from the cash office.

It is a routine used in robberies all over the country.

To prevent further tragedies we are calling on the betting industry to stop the practice of 'single-manning' shops and have a minimum of two workers on site at all times.

Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow has already agreed to raise the issue in Parliament and frightened betting shop workers say it would make their jobs safer.

Mr Burstow said: "I think this is a very good issue to try to get some change on. I think it really is very bad that betting companies are prepared to put their staff at risk in this way.

"I'd be more than happy to raise this issue in Parliament. It is certainly worth it to shine a light on this important issue."

Betting shop workers have also backed the campaign.

One Ladbrokes worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "Ladbrokes have his blood on their hands. Single-manning is immoral - a money-pinching, anti-employee mess."

Despite Mr Iacovou's death, Ladbrokes said it has no plans to stop single manning.

A Ladbrokes spokesman said: "Betting shops throughout Britain have been opened and staffed by individuals in the morning for decades without any incidents.

"We only allow lone working in shops where staff are fully trained and where the shop is risk assessed. 

"We will look into all aspects of the incident and what lessons may be learned but it would be inappropriate to comment on our security procedures in detail."

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  • 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 and your stories about why this issue is important. Anything we publish can be kept anonymous if you wish. Contact us on 020 8722 6350 or email