When Was The Last Bank Robbery In the UK?

25 May, 2023

On February 22, 2006, Britain was shocked to learn that a gang of six armed men managed to steal £53 million from the Securitas bank depot in Kent, the largest bank heist in British history. While the criminals were apprehended and some of the funds recovered, it shook the banking industry to the core.

However, despite the potentially lucrative yields, bank robberies are a rare occurrence in the UK today. In the early 1990s, bank robberies were a near-daily occurrence.  847 bank robberies were carried out in 1992 (291 in London alone), compared to just 66 bank robberies in 2011.

Why Are Bank Robberies Declining?

Bank robberies have become nearly unheard of and are far less lucrative than one might assume. Banks carry far less cash than they have previously, thanks to the proliferation of digital banking and fintech apps. This has greatly reduced the pay-off for would-be bank robbers, who find that the risks simply no longer outweigh the reward.

In May 2022, a gang forced their way into a Birmingham bank as they were opening the branch for the day and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. In July, a man was able to exit a Santander branch with more than £150,000 by simply posing as a G4S security guard completing a pick-up. The year prior, a man was arrested for attempting to rob three banks by passing notes to various tellers. He was able to steal £2,400.

These incidents are becoming fewer and further in-between. According to the British Bankers Association (BBA) chief Anthony Browne, the decline can be attributed to the measures that banks have put into place that prevent armed robberies. “Anyone trying to rob a bank now faces much better CCTV, protective screens that can rise in less than a second, and even special fog designed to disperse criminals.”

While banks rarely release statistics or information about robberies at their branches, a study was conducted by two University of Sussex, researchers. Neil Rickman and Robert Witt obtained confidential records from the British Bankers’ Association detailing 364 bank heists that occurred in the UK between 2005 and 2008.

They found that 33% of bank heists deliver zero gains for the robber and that the odds of arrest increase dramatically if the robber persists in their attempts. On the fourth attempt, the odds of capture are as high as 59%.

Rickman and Witt found that security measures play a significant role in reducing the number of bank heists that place as well as the amount of cash stolen. They stated that a fast-rising screen in a banking outlet, relative to other counter-security measures, can reduce the expected value of a robbery by £24,463.30 and reduces the probability of a successful robbery by one-third.

They state, “Given that, 66% of bank raids are at present successful, the overall introduction of screens could potentially reduce the bank raid success rate in Britain by almost one-half.”

Their findings are in line with a Swiss study that found that banks with screens had a 52% lower robbery rate than banks without them.

The Impact of Bank Security Screens

Bank teller screens made from bullet-resistant or glazed materials protect the staff and the immediate secured area from outside threats and violent attacks. These screens will not completely shatter, even if fired at, which will deter and slow down assailants.

These screens will also help staff feel safer, which can be helpful during a stressful robbery. As the majority of robberies take place at the tellers’ counter, panic could lead to injuries and fatalities if customers were to become aware that a robbery was taking place. They might startle the robber or attempt to intervene. In most cases, the robber simply passes a note to the teller and receives the funds without the customers in the bank being the wiser.

When staff feel protected, they are also far happier at work, knowing that their employer values their lives and makes their safety a priority.

Bank teller screens are non-intrusive, and tellers and customers can easily communicate and conduct business through pass-through trays and voice transmission openings.

In many cases, bank teller screens are effective deterrents. Bank robbers need to leave the building with their haul as quickly as possible; screens indicate that they are facing a much tougher target and cannot intimidate staff as easily.


Choose Safetell

Safetell has provided the banking industry with reliable, adaptable protection for decades. Our screens are highly adaptable and can be designed to match your aesthetic and accommodate any counter accessories you desire without compromising the safety of your establishment or staff.

Safetell screens provide Manual Attack and Ballistic resistance protection. We also offer speed gates to protect your bank from unauthorised access.

If you would like to know more, get in touch with Safetell.