Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Tony and Andy

Key points

In this engaging discussion you will witness Andy and Tony answer questions from the audience. They don’t dodge any of them; they are direct and insightful. They are both prolific ex offenders. They say they have retired  from crime for what appears to be a process of growing out of it; tired of imprisonment and what they see as the lack of respect accorded from younger offenders, and you will hear them lamenting the role of gangs; settling down and having  a family (Tony has had four additional children since leaving his last sentence some five years ago); and a realisation another type of life is possible.

The questions, answers and conversations are wide ranging. For security specialists there is an encouraging theme running through their answers; all security measures have the potential to be a deterrent. They discuss the role of security officers and how they are an impediment when they are alert and linked with technology, but can be useless when not trained and focussed. CCTV was a serious consideration for them, at least when they were planning offences. So too alarms and DNA spray. But this all depends on them being properly used. They have in the past kept watch over premises before targeting them (in robberies and burglaries for example) and point to the ways that measures are not used properly.

They tended not to commit crimes on their doorstep; the dangers of being recognised are too great. Travelling to and from scenes was always a risk but one that could be managed, and so too the process of keeping a watch on premises. Neither feels deterrent sentences (other than at the extreme) would have stopped them. They made the point that they did not expect to get caught and that is what concerned them, sentencing was only an issue later they argued. That said, as noted, they had become tired of prison.

Andy regrets his life. He does not come from a family of offenders and so there was nothing automatic about his life of crime from his childhood. His mother’s husband, and therefore stepdad, was a point of disdain and when by the age of 16 he had a child of his own he saw crime as a way of making money. His first experience of a short, sharp, shock, did not deter him, indeed he says he was bitter after that. He feels he could have made more of his life as he was able at school. If he had his time again he would choose a different path. Not so Tony. His route into crime was more assured; he always believed he would end up in prison and once shared a cell with family members including his father. He says that he does not wish to look back with regret and plans to learn from his lessons and spend his time more productively going forward.

On the one hand Andy and Tony highlight the threat that is being faced. They were persistent and their offences were serious. While a discussion about the ‘causes’ of crime should always take account of social policies, still it is true that their words underline the importance of the work of the security sector. Their offending was impacted by good security, but only good security, and was encouraged and facilitated by bad security.

You can listen for yourself as to what they have to say, we received excellent feedback for the lessons that can be learned. Ultimately though what they show is that it is not just a desire that the security sector is efficient, in all its guises, it is essential. There are real dangers when security is poor; it is an area of activity far too important to be left to anyone other than the most competent.