Reform security at banks in the country as part of new banking rules

Security At Banks  The idea of security officers sitting in front of banks and providing security is outmoded

Tue, 21 Aug 2018 Source: Mark Benyah

I felt compelled to one day put together this article when I observed a security man whose responsibility it was to offer guard on the premises of a rural bank watching a game of draft near the entrance of the bank in rapt and absolute attention 10 years earlier. A would-be bank robber will have it far easier overrunning or taking the security officer out, then carrying on with his robbery operation.

As we navigate through the current banking crisis, we need to take a second look at the manner in which security officers guard banking premises. Any thinking warrior would testify that concealed security posed far greater danger to any prospective criminal than security which was glaring and was noticed by everybody. In my opinion, the idea of security officers sitting in front of banks and providing security is outmoded and needs to be changed.

The reason is that it puts would-be criminals steps ahead as they are able to put the guardsmen under surveillance for days or weeks, estimating their strength and weakness and in the process reinforcing their plans to execute their robbery operations with maximum success.

The only advantage of obvious and unconcealed security is intimidation. The big question then is how intimidating is security on bank premises in the country to a bank depositor or customer let alone to a hardened determined career criminal?

The Ghana Police Service would testify that in spite of the security that is provided on most bank premises, almost all bank robbery operations in living memory in this country equivalent to ninety-nine and nine-tenth percent were successful. All these operations one way or the other ended up in the death of a Police or Security Officer or some bank official. It is quite necessary and a matter of urgency that the Ghana Police Service and financial institutions in this country review their security methods to stop Police and Security Officers and other innocent bank officials from becoming mere hunting preys.

Security at banks should, therefore, be concealed with modern security technology and extensive surveillance systems deployed in the banks to aid guardsmen in the maintenance of security within and without. Banking halls should be redesigned with guardsmen inside the banks monitoring the going-ins and the coming-outs of people on screens so that both the interior and the exterior of the bank is put under watch. In that way, guardsmen will be steps ahead of prospective criminals instead of the other way around. This type of security should not be noticed by customers or casual observers in the banking halls.

A lot of guardsmen have lost their lives to bank robbery operations because the current security system and its philosophy exposes the guardsmen to a far greater danger. The criminals are always steps ahead of the guardsmen as they are able to watch the guardsmen and their targets over a period of days, weeks or months.

According to Sun Tzu in The Art of War “The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy”. With a concealed security, guardsmen could spot suspicious customers and this would give guardsmen first strike advantage.

Therefore, there is the need for a seismic shift from the manner in which security is currently maintained on bank premises. From the Bank of Ghana where you would find soldiers noticeably maintaining guard to many banks in the country the story is the same, security is easily noticeable and therefore can easily be overrun and taken out. I don’t wish it to happen but it is a possibility that hardened determined career criminals of different nationality may infiltrate our system, put these soldiers under surveillance over a period of time, estimate their obvious guard strength and carry out a dangerous successful operation to steal large sums of money from the State and cause fatalities in the process. The situation is even worst at other banks where what I call noticeable security are even far easier to run over.

This calls for cooperation and action from Parliament, the Ghana Police Service, the BOG and all other relevant stakeholders must make concrete proposals so that the current glaring security on banks is substituted or reinforced with a concealed one.

In a related issue, the financial institutions themselves can also scan or photograph some of their bills as a security measure far in advance so that in case there was a bank robbery operation, then they would have another option not to offer resistance thereby taking themselves out of harm’s way. The bills could then be offered to the criminals in the banking hall almost willingly with very minimum resistance, then later on the bills could be traced simply by matching the serial numbers on the photographic copies to the original bills when the criminals put the bills into circulation in their effort to spend it, locating them in the process. The criminals may use the bills in one general location over a long period of time. This is a long shot but at least it is better than nothing.

Columnist: Mark Benyah