Thursday, October 09, 2008

Surveillance cameras in banks

Jolted by the ever increasing armed robbery attacks in banks and financial institutions across the country, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mike Okiro, has issued an ultimatum to these institutions to install surveillance cameras in their banking halls and premises.

The warning came on the heels of the recent armed robbery attack on a new generation bank in Ibadan, Oyo State, in which some policemen were killed.

To this effect, the IGP has given these institutions up to January 1, 2009 to comply with the directive or risk the withdrawal of the services of the Nigeria Police. Okiro had, while giving the warning at a meeting with the executives of the financial institutions at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, explained that the decision was borne out of the need to protect police personnel posted to such outfits for official duties. To underscore the seriousness of the order, the IGP has directed all Commissioners of Police nationwide to ensure that police personnel are posted to only financial institutions that have complied with the security directive after the deadline.

It is not in doubt that the global trend in security now is greatly in favour of the use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and other surveillance gadgets and monitors. In our own case, it has become more compelling to use these novel techniques to secure banking operations in view of spates of bank robberies in recent times.

The idea to introduce the surveillance cameras in the nation’s banking halls and premises of financial institutions is long overdue because their absence further exposes these banks to higher risks of robbery attacks.

There is no doubt that the introduction of the cameras is going to significantly improve the security situation in these banks and assist in keeping the robbers at bay.
While lauding this crime-bursting technique in our land, we also suggest that these financial institutions should link the gadgets to the nearest police stations for effective crime monitoring and prevention. The gadgets should be installed in such a way that the robbers would not have access to them or tamper with them.

This also brings to the fore the need for internal security in these banks. We say this because it is now common knowledge that most bank robberies these days take place with the active connivance of an insider. It is also largely the case that a robbery operation in a bank will hardly succeed without insider collaboration. It therefore behoves these financial institutions to know who their staff really are. The need for proper screening of employees during recruitment exercise has become instructive more than ever before in view of insider sabotage.

If the banks and financial institutions are able to solve the problem of insider dealings, then the war on bank robberies would have been partially won. Besides, the country is now ripe for the installation of surveillance cameras at strategic locations in our urban cities to help nip crimes in the bud. The time has also come for the police to have a data bank of identities and finger-prints of Nigerians as part of general crime prevention and control measures.

The security agencies should also evolve clever and scientific methodologies of curtailing armed robbery operations in the country. Beyond this, let the government step up efforts to create jobs for the teeming army of unemployed Nigerians. There is no way we can divorce the upsurge of criminal activities in the country from the general poverty and unemployment in the land.