Lancashire Police will join forces with officers across the North West and the security industry to launch a joint operation targeting cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies in the run-up to Christmas.
The number of CIT robberies, where a security guard delivering or collecting cash from a business or ATM is targeted, has risen from 41 between January 1 and 30 November in 2016 to 60 so far in 2017 and officers from Titan, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and North Wales, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), SaferCash and other partner agencies are working together to combat them.
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.
This year's regional campaign launched today (Tuesday, 5 December) and will see 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 including armed police vehicles escorting high-risk security vehicles as they carry out cash deliveries, CCTV monitoring and patrol cars following cash-handling vehicles. In addition, all cash containers will include either Smartwater or a dye, which will be released when they are opened, marking the notes so they are both unusable and traceable.
Detective Inspector Jon Smith from Titan’s regional intelligence unit, 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 criminals do not see these types of offences as easy ways to make money, because they most definitely are not.
"Our message to those planning on carrying out cash-in-transit robberies 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.
This is by no means a victimless crime. These robberies can cause deep distress to those at the brunt of the attacks, who are just trying to earn an honest living.
"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."
Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Robson from Merseyside Police's Matrix unit added: "While cash-in-transit attacks are falling in Merseyside we are determined to ensure we continue to see year on year reductions.
"We want the message to be heard loud and clear that anyone thinking about getting involved in these crimes will be found and they will feel the full force of the law.
"The hard-working guards on the receiving end of these attacks, which are often very frightening and involve the threat and sometimes the execution of violence, are left extremely traumatised.
"We urge anyone with any information about those involved in these kind of incidents, or about any suspicious activity around cash-in-transit vehicles or ATMs, to call us so we can take action against them before they have opportunity to carry out these crimes."
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 of this bigger picture approach, and are providing resources to work with the region to reduce this type of violent crime and support any prosecutions."
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.