Shellharbour pubs get guide on robberies

As a victim of seven armed robberies, Michael Dennis knows the trauma that hospitality workers feel after such an experience.

"Obviously it's very scary, it's not something you wish anyone to go through," he said.

"During and after, you're thinking about what you could have done or what could have happened."

The armed robberies occurred while Mr Dennis was working in a pub in western Sydney during the 1990s.

Now the owner of the Ocean Beach Hotel in Shellharbour, he is among a long list of hospitality industry stakeholders spruiking the benefits of a new written guide designed to prevent armed robberies in hotels, pubs and clubs.

The guide, titled Armed Robbery Prevention for Clubs & Hotels, was formally launched by representatives of NSW Police, the WorkCover Authority of NSW, the Australian Hotels Association NSW and ClubsNSW yesterday.

Mr Dennis said the guide focused on keeping staff alert to the potential threat of armed robberies, as well as how to minimise the amount of time a robber remained on the premises.

"It's about having your staff alert, especially down our way armed robberies aren't as prevalent as in the city," he said. "The less time offenders are in a hotel, the risk to staff and customers is lessened.

"Having staff educated that these things are possible; if an incident does happen they're alert, they know what to do."

Though Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) data shows decreasing rates of armed robbery in NSW, police said hotels and clubs remained popular targets for criminals.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner of Field Operations, Nick Kaldas, said the overall 60 per cent decrease in armed robberies in NSW since 2001 had not been reflected in those committed at pubs and clubs.

"For example, if we look at the number of armed robberies against large businesses in 2013, more than 85 per cent of businesses robbed were hotels, pubs and clubs. In 2012, they made up more than 88 per cent," he said.

BOCSAR statistics show the two-year trend for armed robberies in Wollongong was "stable" as of September 2013, at a rate of 52.9 per 100,000 of population, compared with a NSW average of 59.

That rate was slightly lower in Kiama, with the local government area recording 47.8 incidents per 100,000 of population.

Shellharbour recorded the lowest robbery rate for the Illawarra, with 36.9 incidents per 100,000 of population.

The guide will be distributed to pubs and clubs.


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