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Five people have been banned from 24 betting shops across Birmingham city centre by Betwatch – a partnership between the Gambling Commission, the police, local council and bookmakers designed to tackle localised anti-social and criminal behaviour in and around betting shops.

This comes following concerns raised by Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police about suspected drug dealing and anti-social behaviour linked to one bookmaker.

The suspected individuals were issued with ban notices by Betwatch, prohibiting them from entering any betting shops (1) in the city centre. Names and images have also been circulated among the betting shops to allow staff to identify the individuals concerned.

Helen Venn, programme director for compliance at the Gambling Commission said:

“This is a really positive result for Betwatch, which has been rolled out across Birmingham central for 18 months now. We want the community, whether they are customers at a local bookie or not, to feel safe and that they are protected. This stands for betting shop employees too.

“The reality is anti-social behaviour and the crime associated with betting shops can only be tackled if gambling businesses, police, local authorities and the Gambling Commission work together. Betwatch achieves this, allowing each partner to address issues with the tools they have available to them, and in circumstances such as this, refuse service to those that pose a risk to the public.”

Sharon Horner, West Midlands Police’s Designing Out Crime Officer, said:

“Betwatch illustrates the calmative effect of people working together to reach a mutually desired outcome of reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in the community and enhancing the betting experience.”

The betting shop itself has also introduced measures to tackle some of the issues they’ve seen by removing all advertising materials from windows to enable a clear view into the shop, activating a high frequency audible device to deter loitering, refresher training for employees in identifying potential problems, and relationship building between shop employees and local neighbourhood police officers.  

Notes to editors 

  1. This includes 24 betting shops in the centre of Birmingham that are participating in the Betwatch scheme.
  2. More information about how we regulate the gambling industry.
  3. Useful statistics on the gambling industry

Journalists can contact our press office on 0121 230 6700 or email: communications@gamblingcommission.gov.uk

Posted on 15 August 2017