Time deadline set to avoid cash van robberies

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Bank cash van
Bank cash van

New Delhi : In view of spate of cash van robberies across the country earlier, the Union Home Ministry has proposed a new draft standard operating procedures (SOP) for replenishing ATMs, setting a deadline for 9 p.m. in urban areas, 6 p.m. in rural areas and 4 p.m. in Maoist-affected areas, an official said on Thursday.

The proposal has been sent to the Law Ministry for issuing the guidelines from January to the licensed private security agencies, which have been outsourced handling the movement of money between the currency chest and bank branches, bank branches and customer sites like fuel stations and toll collections points, as well as replenishment of cash at ATMs. 

On account of a sudden rise in the incidences of ATM heists and frauds in the last few years, the ministry has now come out with more stringent guidelines for the private security agencies engaged in cash handling and transportation.

"In recent years, there has been a spurt in attacks, hijacking and looting of privately-owned cash vans. Keeping in mind the criticality of the secured cash movement function... It has become necessary to lay down and enforce basic operating guidelines and risk mitigation procedures for secured cash handling and transportation under the provisions of Private Security Agencies Regulation Act 2005," it said.

The ministry also spells out the design and fabrication of cash transportation vehicles and makes it compulsory for them to be equipped with live GPS tracking system and CCTVs with 30 days backup footage. It has called for private cash vaults to be located in safe areas near banks and police stations. 

The cash vans should also be equipped with a hooter, fire extinguishers and emergency lights to ensure quick reaction in case of an attack, the SOP reads, adding the cash van must escorted by two trained armed security guards on board with the driver and two custodians. 

"All cash transportation and ATM cash replenishment activities must only be carried out by operational staff who have undergone thorough antecedent check." 

As per the Home Ministry data, over 8,000 cash vans are plying across the country ferrying close to Rs 15,000 crore cash per day and holding over Rs 5,000 crore overnight on behalf of banks.

The MHA's proposal comes as it feels that the private agencies were not taking enough precaution to handle such issues which resulted several incidents of cash van robberies.