Five people have been banned from 24 betting shops across Birmingham city centre, as part of the UK Gambling Commission’s Betwatch initiative.
A partnership between the Gambling Commission, police, local council and bookmakers, the scheme is designed to tackle localised antisocial and criminal behaviour in and around betting shops.
“This is a really positive result for Betwatch, which has been rolled out across Birmingham central for 18 months now,” commented Helen Venn, programme director for compliance at the Gambling Commission.
“We want the community, whether they are a customers at a local bookie or not, to feel safe and that they are protected. This stands for betting shop employees too.”
The individuals were issued with ban notices, prohibiting them from entering any betting shops in the city centre. Additionally, their names and photographs have been circulated among the betting shops to allow staff to identify them, if required.
“The reality is anti-social behaviour and the crime associated with betting shops can only be tackled if gambling businesses, police, local authorities and the Gambling Commission work together,” continued Venn.
“Betwatch achieves this, allowing each partner to address issues with the tools they have available to them, and in circumstances such as this, refuse service to those that pose a risk to the public.”
Action arose following concerns raised by Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police regarding suspected drug dealing and anti-social behaviour linked to a local bookmaker.
Sharon Horner, West Midlands Police’s Designing Out Crime Officer, said “Betwatch illustrates the calmative effect of people working together to reach a mutually desired outcome of reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in the community and enhancing the betting experience”.
The betting shop itself has also introduced measures to tackle some of the issues encountered, including the removal all advertising materials from windows to enable a clear view into the shop, a high frequency audible device to deter loitering, training for employees in identifying potential problems and ongoing relationship building with the police.