Bank heists are 'history' as branches tighten security

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The number of bank robberies in Britain was at an all-time low last year, according to the British Bankers' Association (BBA).

The annual BBA Physical Security Report for 2007 shows a continuation of the steady decline in robberies, with 106 attacks recorded by banks. Losses from robberies were also down £0.5m in the year.

Bank robberies peaked in 1992, when there were more than 800 in the UK, but numbers have fallen as banks have tightened security procedures. Panic alarms, changes to branch layouts and increasing use of closed-circuit television have made life more difficult for criminals.

"Bank robbery is a crime that no longer pays," said BBA chief executive Angela Knight. "Banks have invested heavily in counter-measures, created effective partnerships with security firms and worked with the police to consign robbery to history," she added.

On the downside, though, the BBA said that criminals who still choose to rob banks are showing a greater willingness than ever to use violence.

The BBA also admitted there had been a "displacement" of crime in 2007, with 319 attempts to rob security guards carrying cash to and from branches – the second-highest number of such attacks ever recorded by the BBA.