Council looks to ‘give teeth’ to policy aimed at protecting betting shop workers

Islington’s 20 November licensing committee. Photograph: Islington Citizen.

Islington Council are looking at ways to ‘give teeth’ to their latest gambling policy, with particular regard to safeguarding workers in betting shops.

The Town Hall’s licensing committee examined Islington’s draft gambling policy 2019-2022 at a 20 November meeting.

The policy states that lone working in licensed gambling premises puts employees at risk of violence and verbal abuse.

The committee attempted in their deliberations to ‘give teeth’ to enforcing a management standard relating to this issue in any new establishment which applied to trade in the borough.

Cllr Gary Poole (Lab, St Mary’s), said: “Protection for staff in betting shops, and in particular those working alone, is a growing and genuine issue.

“Working alone is a risk both for those staff and for the upholder of the licensing principle.

“I hope we can find some teeth to really enforce that, or at least promote it as a standard of management we expect to see.”

Cllr Phil Graham (Lab, Bunhill), questioned whether it would be enough to say that the council would “expect” not to see lone workers in betting shops, stating: “I would rather it say something along the lines of, ‘Nobody should be working there alone.’

“If there’s a way of putting it in our policy that no-one’s allowed to work alone, because they are targets and people do get upset. If you lose your rent, they are going to be upset, and if someone’s in there on their own, they’re vulnerable.”

Officers stated that they would look at whether a condition for new premises could be included in the policy.

Islington saw 186 betting shop-related crimes between October 2016 and 30 September 2018, with recorded offences peaking between 6pm and 9pm.

The most commonly seen crime type was criminal damage related to customers damaging equipment, followed by harassment and theft.