An integrated security system that includes new IP cameras and two-way audio technology has seen the rate of injuries as a result of attacks on Post Office staff decline by 36% in just three years. This follows the deployment of a sophisticated monitoring and intelligent threat detection platform developed by Morphean, a Video Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaaS) innovator, which has not only helped to keep staff safe, but has also protected ATMs from attack.
The Post Office is responsible for the safety and well-being of 14,500 workers in 11,600 branches. The very nature of the Post Office’s combined service offer and the fact that Post Offices are often located in rural areas means that branches can be prime targets for thieves. Opportunistic attacks on staff and equipment, and the use of expanding gas to break open ATM machines, is not uncommon.
In rural communities, attacks on equipment can leave branches out of operation for long periods. In the last year alone, there were 13,437 violent attacks on convenience store workers, 27% of which involved a weapon and 39% led to injury. That’s according to the Association of Convenience Stores’ annual Crime Report.
The Post Office’s security team wanted to build on its existing threat intelligence and response system, Grapevine, with a network of IP cameras and two-way audio into branches. Axis Communications cameras, microphones and speakers connected to the Morphean platform and hosted in the cloud were initially installed in pilot branches by Kings Secure Technologies. Now that trial implementations have been completed successfully, the security team plans to expand coverage rapidly.
In addition to the cameras, the networked speakers enable Security Control Centre staff to speak directly to customers and suspected criminals, alerting them to the fact they’re under surveillance. Further integrations are under way to bring security automation to other branches, such as providing the ability for remote agents to lock on-site safes in the event of an attack episode taking place.
Due to the challenges around connectivity in areas where the most vulnerable branches are situated, the solution is also optimised to use low bandwidth data and is capable of streaming video over a 3G mobile network.
The built-in intelligence of the Morphean platform means that members of staff are able to monitor footage for suspicious behaviour, such as individuals loitering near an ATM, and issue an alert to security teams who can then decide on the appropriate course of action. If it’s someone trying to find their wallet, no action is taken. If a crime’s in progress, the police will be notified and video footage captured.
In addition, staff are able to trigger an alert manually using an under-the-counter activation button, which can be investigated immediately by Security Control Centre staff based at the Alarm Receiving Centre.
Staff safety is paramount
“The safety of our staff is our foremost priority,” asserted Mark Dinsdale, physical security manager for the Post Office. “We’ll never completely eliminate crime in our branches, but we’re also not powerless against it and we’re able to make significant differences to the safety of our people, as demonstrated by the new technology that we’re deploying. Post Office staff, and particularly those in remote areas without access to a nearby police station, value the easy access to help and now report feeling much safer at work.”
Paul Ottley, account director at Kings Secure Technologies, added: “Footage is sent straight to the Morphean cloud. The platform compresses video and is fully encrypted end-to-end. This means that, even if criminals attempt to destroy cameras or on-site storage appliances, recordings of any incidents are secured in a manner that renders them admissible as evidence. This eliminates the challenge of sending out an engineer to collect footage. It’s a simple solution that’s flexible and fully compliant with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation.”
*To learn more about how the the Post Office has successfully increased staff safety visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUI3mVpIeP0