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Ladbrokes pledges new safety measures after Morden betting shop murder of Cheam man Andrew Iacovou
Betting shop industry bosses are rolling out new safety measures in the wake of this newspaper's SafeBet campaign.
We launched SafeBet, our campaign calling for increased safety for betting shop workers, following the murder of Sutton man Andrew Iacovou at the Morden branch of Ladbrokes he managed in May last year.
Father-of-three Mr Iacovou was bludgeoned over the head with a hammer by robber Shafique Aarij while he was working alone shortly after 8am in the morning.
Although Mr Iacovou pressed a panic alarm during the attack, the incident could not be seen on CCTV cameras so when the Ladbrokes central security team looked at the screens, they could not see anything amiss. Mr Iacovou lay dead on the floor for two hours before he was found by a punter.
This newspaper, along with our sister titles in south west London, has called on the betting industry to do more to protect its staff and has been backed by MPs including Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake.
Mr Brake organised a meeting between Ladbrokes bosses and this newspaper at his Westminster base on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Ladbrokes representatives said if they do re-open the Aberconway branch where Mr Iacovou died, they would not allow staff to work alone. They also said they are rolling out a range of new safety measures.
Ian Smyth, Ladbrokes' operations director for the south, said: "Reopening that shop is not top of our priorities right now but it's something we will do when the time is right.
"At that point I would suggest that, in view of what happened, we would not single schedule [the industry term for allowing staff to work alone]."
Chris Cerroni, Ladbrokes' director of compliance, detailed a range of new safety measures the chain is introducing in its 2,200 branches including a system that will allow the central security base to speak to the shop directly over speaker to make sure they are not in trouble and a system that triggers an alert if the shop computer is not used in 45 minutes.
"This would prompt security staff to check in on the shop.
Mr Iacovou with his wife Anita and two of his three sons
He said the chain would also continue to train staff in dealing with troubled customers and carry out thorough assessments before deeming shops suitable for single-staffing.
Mr Cerroni said betting shops only have small amounts of money - usually less than £500 - behind the counter and, due to sophisticated CCTV systems, prosecution rates are high and carry an average sentence of seven years in jail. He said they would do more to make potential robbers aware of this.
Mr Iacovou's killer was sentenced to life in jail earlier this year.
Killer Shafique Aarij
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