Bullion centre gas grenades


Towards the end of the seventies, banks started to operate differently, with the onset of new business models such as TSB and the Post Office and some high profile robberies involving firearms and kidnapping the managers families etc. decisions were taken to dramatically reduce branch cash holding.

Cash would now be stored centrally and distributed to and from branches in security vans designed for the purpose. New screens were installed which when triggered would rise up from the counter to the ceiling in a fraction of a second, separating the staff from the public area with bullet proof screens 

High resolution recording equipment was introduced comprising 35mm film cameras loaded with hundreds of frames of film which would record a few frames per second for up to twenty minutes and could be analysed by the police later, they were vastly superior to CCTV using VHS tape to store frames at the time. This changed the risk significantly.

I was sent to help Clancy install a new alarm system in a new cash storage facility in Leeds, the building was anonymous and disguised, constructed partially underground. It was designed to provide storage for coins and notes to support the regional branches of the bank remotely. 

This was an unusual installation to be involved in, the building housed two massive vaults, one for coins and one for notes, each vault required an alarm system, to ensure there could never be a situation where the alarm could not be set, two companies were selected to install alarms in both vaults. In normal operation, the Chubb system would be set on even numbered weeks, with the other company set on odd numbered weeks. Should one system not set, the other could be used instead until the first was repaired.

It was unusual working with Clancy in both vaults on the Chubb system, whilst another company was also installing a system in the same area, one control panel either side of the vault doors.

In the control room, there was sloping glass like that of an airport tower or a ship's bridge, this was of course bullet proof. Along the sloping window sill was what at first glance looked like CCTV monitors, however they were actually solid glass designed to reflect the light in a similar way to the prism in a 35mm SLR camera, these covered the vehicle loading bays and gave a real image of what was occurring in them. Far superior to CCTV and much harder to disable. 

Each vehicle arriving at the premises would arrive at a roller shutter door, this would be opened to permit the vehicle into the individual loading area and would close behind the vehicle once entered, the operators could now see and talk to the guards with the vehicle, should anything untoward start to happen, gas grenades could be dropped from the ceiling into the loading bay to rapidly gain control. In addition, a sprinkler or Halon system could be triggered to control fires.