Northamptonshire Co-op stores will increase security measures following spate of armed robberies

One worker, who used to work in Old Duston Co-op, said the store lost a lot of staff because they felt unsafe.
One worker, who used to work in Old Duston Co-op, said the store lost a lot of staff because they felt unsafe.

Central England Co-op has teamed up with Northamptonshire Police to clamp down on armed robberies after staff have been left feeling terrified.

The organisations have announced a call to action, aimed at potential thieves, to let them know that the retailer has strict cash controls in place to limit the amount of money at each store to very low levels at all times.

This news follows an extensive feature written by the Northampton Chronicle & Echo last year, after workers told this newspaper that they have been threatened with knives by offenders.

Back in June, Matthew Joyce, who once worked in the Old Duston Co-op branch for five years and Kingsley Park Terrace store for four months said he loved his time at work but crime in convenience shops across Northampton and the wider county is “nothing new”.

“We had bouts of almost daily antisocial behaviour from people stealing, assaulting and abusing staff and customers," he said.

“There were two burglaries within 12 months and an armed robbery. This was all on top of the usual theft retail stores have to contend with. We lost a lot of staff because they simply didn’t feel safe.”

Police and Central England Co-op have now increased security measures in-store, which include full CCTV coverage, more security guards and reduced incident response times - particularly in the Northampton and Corby areas.

Matt Birch trading executive at Central England Co-op said his stores have stringent cash controls in place so thieves get away with little to no cash at all.

He said: “As there are no large amounts of cash on site, a would-be criminal could be looking at up to 10 years in prison for each incident of armed robbery. Ask yourself the question, is the risk worth the reward – and the answer from our point of view is no.

“These criminals are getting away with less than £200 per robbery, which could see them in prison for up to 10 years.”

Detective Chief Inspector, Paul Rymarz, said: “Northamptonshire Police is committed to protecting people from harm and this involves ensuring that those people who work in convenience stores across Northamptonshire feel safe at work.

“We have made a number of arrests recently in relation to robberies at convenience stores across the county and will continue to work hard to ensure people who rob convenience stores are brought to justice.”

Matt Birch added: “These incidents are frightening for store colleagues, who are our first priority, and we offer them support and counselling both from within our business and specialists. "

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