Greater Manchester Police is joining forces with other officers across the North West and the security industry to run a joint operation targeting cash-in-transit robberies and theft of ATMs in the run-up to Christmas.
The action will be co-ordinated by Titan (North West Regional Organised Crime Unit), the regional collaboration to tackle serious and organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking, firearms, armed robberies, aggravated burglaries and other serious crimes.
Officers from Titan, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and North Wales, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), SaferCash and other partner agencies will be working together for the second year running to combat cash-in-transit robberies.
Following last year's campaign, cash-in-transit robberies in December across the region fell by more than 66 per cent compared to December 2010.
In December 2011, there were three cash-in-transit robberies across the region compared to nine in December 2010. Of those in 2011, two were in GMP and one was in Merseyside. In 2010, there were five offences in GMP, two offences in Merseyside and two offences in Cheshire in the month of December.
This year's campaign launched on Monday, 3 December and sees officers using both high-visibility and covert patrols on the ground and in the air to escort security vehicles as they carry out their normal deliveries.
A number of other tactics will be used to prevent these robberies, including armed police vehicles escorting high-risk security vehicles as they carry out cash deliveries; overt and covert CCTV monitoring; patrol cars following cash-handling vehicles; plus all cash containers will include either Smartwater or a dye, which will be released when they are opened.
Initiatives to reduce cash-in-transit robberies have already been very successful in the region and this further proactive, co-ordinated approach sends a very clear message to criminals that these attacks will not be tolerated.
The action follows significant success so far this year in combating cash-in-transit robberies across the region with 24 offenders being convicted and sentenced to more than 161 years in prison.
This year's campaign will also focus on reducing the number of incidents targeting ATMs.
Detective Superintendent John Lyons from Titan said: "The region has seen a significant fall in cash-in-transit robberies in recent years but we are not complacent and we are determined to make sure that criminals continue to not see these types of offences as easy ways to make money.
"While there has been a drop in the number of cash-in-transit robberies there has been a shift towards criminals targeting cash machines across the region so we will also be concentrating our efforts on ensuring these are secure and those who try to tamper with them are swiftly caught."
He added: "Our message to those planning on carrying out cash-in-transit robberies or attempting to steal cash machines in the run-up to Christmas is clear - we will find you and we will make sure you spend this Christmas and many more to come behind bars away from your family and loved ones.
"Robberies that target cash-in-transit vehicles, banks, post offices and commercial businesses are often violent offences that can result in life-changing mental and physical scars on those who find themselves confronted by these criminals.
"They are not victimless crimes and cause deep distress to those at the brunt of the attacks.
"Titan together with the six police forces in the North West are committed to cracking down on the criminals who make the lives of people making an honest living in the security and commercial industries a misery and we will continue to use all the powers available to us to target these criminals, prevent offences and bring those responsible to justice."
DI David Swift from GMP added: " The Greater Manchester region has more than its share of armed robberies because of its highly commercialised nature and the public’s demand for cash machines in a wide range of public facilities including petrol forecourts, local shops and on the high street.
"GMP and the security industries are using a range of overt and covert tactics to deter, disrupt and detect the activities of armed robbers.
“A standing command for police vehicles on general duties to escort unaccompanied cash-in-transit robberies vehicles they come upon has been particularly successful in making it difficult for criminals to plan their activities around unescorted delivery vans".
Two delivery drivers, who are partners on a cash-and-transit van making deliveries and collections across the North West, have been victims of such crimes on numerous occasions and have spoken out about their experiences in a bid to raise awareness about the impact of these offences.
The guards, who wish to remain anonymous, were last attacked in June 2012. They have both worked in the industry for nearly 12 years.
One guard, aged 43, who was at the brunt of the most recent attack, said: "We are ordinary, working men with families and jobs we love that we are determined not to let criminals spoil. However, the effect of these attacks is huge and impacts on everything - from family life to sleeping patterns. It never leaves you, even when you are off duty you are still wary of people in the street and in vehicles, especially near to your home.
"Even though we have specialist training, once you have been a victim of one of these attacks, especially the more violent ones where they use weapons and you don't know if you will get to see your family again, it is very difficult to switch off and carry on with normal life.
"I hope any potential offenders who are thinking of targeting delivery vans or ATMs this Christmas spare a thought for the workers like my partner and I, who are trying to earn a living for our families, and are the ones left with the mental and physical scars that will never leave us. We are the ones who will continue to relive the trauma - the shouting, the fear and the threat of violence - and I can vouch that they are certainly not victimless crimes."
The other guard, who is 44, added: "The effect can be devastating and can affect you unexpectedly even in day to day life. I was recently withdrawing cash from an ATM and a man in a high vis vest came running round the corner. I instinctively cowered down and shouted 'What are you doing?' The man said he was sorry but was running because he was late for work.
"Even your kids at home jumping on you playfully can momentarily have an impact. You feel as though you are constantly living on the edge and are always thinking 'Will I get attacked today?'
"When you are not the victim and you see your partner getting attacked that also has a huge emotional consequence leaving you feeling racked with guilt thinking I should have done more to prevent that but in reality the attackers are so determined that there is little else you can do.
"I hope anyone reading this who may have information about those involved in this type of crime thinks about the impact on people like us and the cost we pay for their financial gain. I hope hearing our story will make the difference between them picking up the phone to call the police and sitting by doing nothing."
All North West police forces, in partnership with the security industries, will continue to share intelligence and provide assistance for cross-border deliveries throughout the campaign and in the following months.
Steve Hurst, head of SaferCash, said: "This initiative is an excellent example of the North West not only working in partnership with the Forces within the region but also with industry. SaferCash and the BSIA are fully supportive and are providing resources to work with the North West to reduce this type of violent crime and to support any prosecutions"
Titan will also be sending Christmas cards to those who have previously been convicted of cash-in-transit, commerical burglaries and ATM robberies as a reminder to stay on the right side of the law this festive season or face another Christmas behind bars.
Police are asking the public to be vigilant and help stop the violence by reporting any suspicious activity in the run up to the festive season to their local force by calling 101, or to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always call 999.