Consider the following robberies that have been committed in and around Colombo in recent times: 1) A private bank at Malabe (robbed of about Rs. 1.3 million). 2) A private bank at Kohuwela (about Rs. 2 million). 3) A private bank at Seeduwa (Rs. 1.4 million). 4) Finance company at Matugama (Rs. 5 million). The [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Security in private banks and financial institutions is appalling


Consider the following robberies that have been committed in and around Colombo in recent times:
1) A private bank at Malabe (robbed of about Rs. 1.3 million).
2) A private bank at Kohuwela (about Rs. 2 million).
3) A private bank at Seeduwa (Rs. 1.4 million).
4) Finance company at Matugama (Rs. 5 million).

The public should not be surprised about these robberies because there has been a sheer lack of professionalism of the banks in their management of security. When exposed to robberies, banks don’t realise that the lives of its employees and security staff are at stake rather than their money which can be recovered if lost as opposed to lives which may be lost forever.

But the banks seem to be quite content in merely rewarding staff who had virtually sacrificed their lives to protect the banks, concerned, rather than taking adequate and positive measures from a professional aspect of security, customers, staff and assets.
I have personally noticed several banks on Nawala Road which are reputed private banks ignoring the threats posed to them. I brought this to the notice of these managers by showing that customers who bring large sums of monies are made to stand in line not realizing that this can be seen by would-be criminals who pretend to be customers arriving with their accomplices on the mobile phone. It was also noticed by me that some customers withdraw large sums of money amounting to few millions and the cashier gives them openly at the counter to be seen by many would be criminals watching these transactions taking place inside the bank who could easily send text messages to their accomplices describing the customer’s dress and vehicle number thus subjecting them to a robbery. However these managers failed to react. Managers must walk around and observe these rather than being in their air-conditioned offices. Why cannot the banks provide a safe room which is well secured for such transactions rather than exposing customers and employees to danger risking their lives?

About two weeks ago I went to a bank on Narahenpita Road, Nawala and watched a motor cyclist walking into the bank wearing a fully covered helmet and the security didn’t take any action to get him to remove it. I brought it to the notice of the Security Officers and they casually said “what can we do if the management does not want us to do anything”. However being a security professional, I advised the security that they should compel these persons to remove their helmets before entering the bank and not wait for instructions from the bank.

Amidst these developments, I was contacted by the management of a private bank to provide a proposal with a view to conduct a security survey of their banks highlighting the threats consequent to some robberies this bank faced. I immediately responded and discussed their requirement and quoted my fees explaining to them the extensive research involved and information I may have to gather to provide a comprehensive survey and gave them a time frame. But to-date this bank hasn’t responded, probably thinking the fees quoted were too high when it is not even 20 per cent of the monies lost by this bank by way of robberies.

Many private banks except the state banks do not consider preventive measures as vital. They would rather wait till something happens assuming their monies are insured and can be claimed through the insurance companies.

This is sad and pathetic.

It is time that the Government steps in to lay down certain procedures and systems to all banks compelling them to follow guidelines in terms of safety of employees, security staff and their assets. Just as much as the Government insists on annual audited accounts for companies, these banks too should be compelled by law to conduct an annual security audit by a recognised firm compelling them to take appropriate steps to ensure safety of customers, employees, hired staff and assets in banks. This will no doubt reduce the burden on the Police and have a desired effect on the crime wave and assure even the insurance companies with whom they are insured that adequate measures have been taken to prevent losses.

Banks subjected to robberies should consider themselves fortunate that no customers or employees lost their lives. If so, it would have caused a serious impact on their business not excluding compensation, they may have to pay.

The primary reason for treating industrial security with scant respect is because it is considered a non-profit making division in most organisations not realising that if not for effective preventive measures in security, most institutions will be risking the lives of customers, employees, losing most of their valuable assets and even their businesses, (in terms of customer confidence.
The Government should step in and ensure that:

- Industrial security is upgraded in terms of recruitment of quality staff with contended employees.

- That they are properly remunerated and on par with a police officer possessing security of employment with pension rights and free uniforms,enabling the recruitment of staff with an aptitude for these functions.

- Sophisticated training is provided to them in the use of advanced systems and equipment.

- Compel insurance companies to provide a rebate in the premium to clients if they engage staff from recognized security companies, registered with the Ministry of Defence.

I sincerely hope the Ministry of Defence which comes under the purview of the President and the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa will take immediate steps to organise measures to improve the standard of private security/industrial security along with the Minister of Labour Gamini Lokuge and professional organisations such as the Industrial Security Foundation (Inc) and the security service providers association.

Priority should be given towards the enhancement of industrial security in this country.

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.