NatWest in West Norwood has shut its doors after more than 100 years, and reports are claiming it is because bosses have decided that the area is too risky to run a bank in. It had been raided by armed robbers seven times in eleven years.
But is it fair? And what about the customers?
DangerousThe Streatham Guardian reported that the branch of NatWest in West Norwood, South London, has been closed without notice. The branch had been robbed seven times in eleven years by armed raiders: the most recent attack was in August last year, and there had been a series of muggings at the cashpoint. The report went on to claim that the bank had struggled to find staff willing to work at the branch.
A spokesperson for NatWest told the newspaper: "The attack in August was the seventh such incident in the last 11 years and the decision to close was made in the interests of the safety of our customers, staff and the local community."
CustomersLocal businesses complained to reporters that it would hurt their business, as people would not have the cash handy to spend in the shops and cafes. By the time they had gone elsewhere for cash, they would find somewhere else to buy a coffee or a newspaper.
However, the decision to move has been prompted by very real concerns. West Norwood has struggled with crime for a number of years. In the last year there have been 441 incidents of anti-social behaviour, 137 burglaries and 60 robberies. In total there were 1,350 incidents. Locals complain of difficulties with groups of unemployed youths hanging around, and a rising gang culture.
One ex-resident posted on the Mumsnet discussion forum: "We used to live more or less opposite that branch. Until I listened to someone get shot dead outside at 4am one Saturday. Then we moved. The gentrification and heavy CCTV presence in nearby Brixton seems to have forced gang-related crime into the surrounding areas. I quite liked West Norwood, it was charming, but there's no denying it has some serious problems."