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WH Smith & Post Office, Forest Hill
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Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #141
01-03-2009 08:19 PM

Presumably Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as was before the Vietnam war ended).

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Posts: 8
Joined: Dec 2008
Post: #142
30-05-2009 05:39 PM

Anyone know what happened today at lunchtime? Lots of police there. Hope everyone OK.

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Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #143
31-05-2009 08:51 AM

I do hope not another robbery. Anyone know.

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Perry Vale SNT

Posts: 8
Joined: Dec 2008
Post: #144
02-06-2009 09:58 AM

I'm afraid to say it was.
At about 1240 a group of 5 black males have entered and gone upstairs, threatened the security guard and jumped the Post Office counter. They've taken cash and run off.
They were wearing all black clothing with black and white bandana's over their faces.

If anyone has any info they can pass on please do so either to us, Forest hill SNT or crimestoppers. We'd be very gratefull.

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Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #145
02-06-2009 02:01 PM

It would be interesting to know how the number and nature of offences at this site here compared with the old place. There the staff were behind security windows- at Smiths they are not which seems really bizarre to me in this day and age. I would have thought siting it upstairs at the back naturally made it a more vulnerable location from the off.
I don't recall any robberies at all in the previous building. I don't recall seeing any security guards there either so perhaps there was no need for them given the windows. I don't see what use security staff are in this situation as they are not equipped to tackle large gangs of thugs and no one would want to see them beaten to a pulp.

The entire shop is now a dark dank badly lit space with too many high shelves so that you can't see where you are going let alone whats on them. Its created a very intimidating area so its little wonder that people seem to find these sorts of crimes easy to commit. Personally I'm beginning to think twice about going in there at all now as it really is not a positive shopping experience and when I do go in I can't wait to get out. And I wouldn't like to be in such a tight space with a robbery going on a few feet away. And imagine how vulnerable the staff must feel as this is at least the second incident in 5/6 months. Surely some simple measures such as improved lighting, relocation the PO area to downstairs would help? These guys don't appear to be regular bank robber types- just opportunists who see easy pickings.

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Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #146
02-06-2009 03:55 PM

I agree Roz
This is not good and the staff should have security grills.
Do you know whether they were armed ?
I am not sure how you conclude they were not regular criminals but just opportunists , but you may well be right. But criminals are criminals and let us hope they are caught , but little hope of that.

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Posts: 653
Joined: Feb 2007
Post: #147
02-06-2009 05:27 PM

Five people, all wearing black, with bandanas over their faces: I'm sorry, but it's hardly an opportunistic crime. Sounds pretty planned to me. And certainly not something a bit of extra lighting would've fixed.

Does sound like the windows in the old place gave extra security, but WHSmiths dark, dank and intimidating? Come on.

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Posts: 814
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #148
03-06-2009 12:19 AM

Can't the council (under advice from the police) insist the post office return to safer accommodation? The current location is creating an ongoing danger to both the staff and public.

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Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #149
03-06-2009 08:05 AM

I am not sure that is the answer. I suspect Royal Mail would close the Forest Hill Post Office alltogether rather than move back.
I agree the new office needs better security and cannot understand why this has not been provided .
Surely some sort of apparatus could be provided to block the stairs or something like that to prevent the crims getting away.
There is always a security guard down stairs . Did he not think they looked a bit dodgy.
They need to tighten up protection for the staff and that needs to be done before reoppening.

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Posts: 814
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #150
03-06-2009 01:29 PM

This franchise has failed. It cannot provide the PO services safely.
It should be terminated in its current form. Today.

The Post Office is being systematically and deliberately destroyed, and realistically the old purpose built office will not be reopened, nor any smaller shop converted. So we are stuck with franchises.

Sainsburys might be interested in providing limited services. They have the experience of dealing with larger sums of money and have more ground floor space.
WHSmiths could also run a one man sub post office on the ground floor - for parcels/registered post etc. With the upstairs space returned, and the bigger money elsewhere ,the shop would feel safer and lighter again.

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Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #151
03-06-2009 04:06 PM

I think both Smith's are the only reason we still have a Post Office and the Post Office is the only reason we have a Smith's. I have been amazed for years that Smith's had not closed, never seemed very busy especially upstairs.
They have to make it work otherwise I believe we will lose them both.
It seems to work in Bromley etc.
More security seems the answer.

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Posts: 3,238
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #152
03-06-2009 04:17 PM

We need to move WHSmith to the old post office, extending into Paddy Power.

We can then demolish WHSmith so that we can build a new station on the site and build new shops around the town square in place of the current station.

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Posts: 105
Joined: Jan 2008
Post: #153
03-06-2009 11:57 PM

In response to Roz, there were two serious incidents at the old PO in the 14 years I worked there up to the closure. One was a snatch of a sealed bag being delivered by a security van about 7 or 8 years ago. It was grabbed as he removed it from the smoke & dye box. We were shocked but no-one was hurt. The last one was in September 2004- I had a gun pointed in my face but managed to set off an alarm and the robber quickly left. It's believed that the same guy shot a subpostmaster in East Dulwich an hour or two later.
The new PO's last incident was in February so twice in 3 months. Me & my former colleagues said at the time of conversion that this would be more likely to happen. One reason was the open plan counters, the other the ease and choice of escape routes.
Michael's idea of moving Smiths to the old site is great, but the location is not close enough to the station to gain the same footfall which is precisely why it won't happen!
Does anyone remember the Woolwich being on London Road? Two robberies in a 6 week period killed them off. Let's see how much longer Forest Hill has a PO...

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Posts: 963
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #154
04-06-2009 12:29 AM

Not to mention how many times has the Abbey in London Road has been robbed over the years. Incidentally I don't remember Barclays having many robberies.

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Posts: 814
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #155
04-06-2009 01:35 PM

Today there is a new security guy at the door of WHSmiths.
He is not threatening, but clearly he is not there just to stop school kids nicking the smarties - he is a professional.

I felt he was closely assessing everyone as a potential raider, before they'd even entered the shop. Nothing will get past him.
Fantastic. I bought my newspaper in a secure environment.

Except priority no 1 for this franchise is profit. If they cannot afford security grills or even to replace worn carpets, they cannot afford to pay a guy of this level for more than a week.

Security is expensive. Providing knowledgeable staff to explain complex Government documents and procedures is expensive. Do these 2 things properly and there is no profit to be made.

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Posts: 13
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #156
04-06-2009 01:49 PM

I'm not sure how long WH Smith can exist. It doesn't seem to be that relevant any more - that branch at least. It certainly needs a makeover and a stock clearout/re-think.

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Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #157
04-06-2009 02:36 PM

David I agree as I have said really surprised has not closed years even decades ago.
The Post Office deal is a life saver for them as must bring in a lot of extra revenue also using part of the upstairs which was very underused to say the least.
Most people seem to be saying move the Post Office and thereby lose them both. I honestly believe the Post Office will say either where they are or we will have to go to Sydenham ( which has drunks outside all day ).
Let us think of reasons to help the present arrangement as I suspect the only option we have except no Post Office or WHS.
I agree welcome that the security guard looks as though he means business but when faced with criminals possibly armed may be different.
Grills to protect staff very important. More cameras . Am I correct the roof escape has now been closed of so the crims have to go out by the front door.
Howabout cameras also on stairs which if they cannot get a full facial picture start an alarm ?

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Posts: 814
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #158
04-06-2009 02:52 PM

The Post Office deal may well be a life saver for them.
But it could cost someone their life.

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