Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Are Bank policies causing more burglaries?

Banks are important social institutions, and have a number of roles to play in creating a safe and prosperous community. One of these roles is to provide, for a reasonable fee, with a place for customers to store their valuables. Banks have managed to do this through two world wars, through baby booms and through the economic hardships of the 1970s.

But, for reasons BFTF cannot understand, the last few years have seen many banks remove this facility for customers. Entirely predictably, this has had the result of making burglars rich as they prey on households that are now forced to store their valuables at home.

BFTF became aware of this issue after reading a report at the BBC and also one in the Guardian and raised this at a recent local residents meeting in April (with the result that both the council and the Police have agreed to consider how they can challenge local banks on this issue.

By August, having raised the issue again, been told that the council would challenge local banks, but not having received any feedback that they had done actually done so - decided to spend an hour or two asking Banks in the town centre myself, with the following results:

Barclays
Said they don't provide a safekeeping service as they "just don't have the space".



Santander
Said they don't provide a safekeeping service.


Yorkshire Bank
Said that they had stopped providing a safekeeping service some nine years ago as the insurance costs were no longer affordable.


NatWest
A very polite customer service representative here said that they were honouring existing committments but not offerning a service to any new customers, for "space and insurance" reasons.


HSBC
Alone amongst the banks that BFTF visited, it was HSBC that offered a safekeeping service (for a reasonable fee) to customers who used HSBC as their main current account.


So what should people do?
With so few banks now offering a safekeeping service, BFTF wonders what people should do and hopes to ask the Police for their advice...

UPDATE (03 Sep 12):
Passed on the above information to the council representative who had been at the residents meetings, asking "With most banks having decided to remove this public service facility, who - specifically - should people turn to for safekeeping of jewellery, war medals, house deed etc."

UPDATE (07 Jan 13):
Sent email to council representive asking them if there was any feedback yet from Police on the representatives question to them "is there any correlation between lack of safety deposit boxes and thefts

UPDATE (Jun 2016):
Eventually gave up asking the council representative. Asked for this issue to be raised at a Police Advisory Group, feedback was that the response was not clear. Following yet another spate of burglaries of asian households recently, sent the email below to a senior Policeman that attended a community event.

"Regarding the recent spate of burglaries targeting jewelry in asian households, I think a factor here is that banks have abdicated responsibility for providing a place of safe storage for valuables by stopping the provision of this service at their branches. With the entirely predictable result that asian households are being targeted in jewelry burglaries. I would like the Police to state publically that the banks are failing in their duty and would like to Police to ask the banks to reinstate this facility. And I would like to know what SPECIFIC recommendations the Police and Council have for storing valuables away from the home."

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