'ATMs not meant for snoozing' - The New Indian Express

'ATMs not meant for snoozing'

Published: 27th November 2013 07:48 AM

Last Updated: 27th November 2013 07:48 AM

Over a thousand ATMs have been shut citing lax follow up on the recent security measures directed by the state government, post the horrific incident where a bank manager was attacked inside an ATM kiosk on November 20, in the city. However, many citizens still fear that not enough is being done to make ATMs safe enough for women. City Express spoke to a few women about what they think needs to be done to turn the situation around.

Isolated locations unsafe

Former minister and Congress leader, Rani Satish opines in view of paradigm changes in social attitudes where one does not know what is happening in the neighbourhood, strict measures like an alarm system and linkage of CCTV input to the main bank should be implemented. “With a 24-hour link to the main bank, at least somebody would be watching what is happening inside an ATM. Each of these cash counters should be manned by able security guards and not old, infirm and dozing ones. Even this deployment will only give a certain amount of protection in today’s world where every day we are witnessing attacks against women. Another aspect which the banks should ensure is not setting up ATMs in remote, isolated places but preferably near banks,” she added.

Keep pepper spray handy

Kannada actress Bhavana feels strongly that CCTV cameras need to be monitored at all times. She says, “I’ve always felt that the CCTV does not really help to deter crime. It can only be effective if they are monitored in real time. There should be some control room, watching live footage from these CCTV cameras at all times, or they should be linked to the police control room. And not just ATMs, but also hotels, airports and the kind should all make this facility available so that crime against women can be deterred. Women are fragile by nature and what can one woman do against an armed criminal. That’s another thing that needs to be looked into. Arms should not be made available so easily, everywhere. Another thing that can be done is, these ATMs can be equipped with some kind of defence mechanism like a pepper spray or an electroshock weapon, that can only be operated from the control room, so when a crime is taking place, they can put this mechanism into action.”

Monitor CCTV real-time

Loreto Maimoni, a copywriter, feels that the first step would be to make sure that there are security guards present at all times. “Second would be to make sure, if possible, that CCTV footage of sensitive areas be monitored and not just recorded. So that if something happens, immediate action can be taken. Also, if there is constant police patrolling and vigilance, I think it would make a lot of difference,” she says.

No absent Security

There are others who have always been apprehensive about using ATMs. “I have never used my card to date because I have never found ATMs safe. The men who are employed as security guards should be checked thoroughly for their credentials,” says Grace Singh, headmistress, St. Dominic’s, Attibele.

Kavitha Reddy, founder of Basecamp Adventures, says, “Linking the ATM camera to a local police station can be the best start to secure ATMs, in my opinion. The ATM must and should have guards 24/7. Banks should come together and install a common ATM with five to six slots with 24/7 security. This will save them money and provide better security. Also, not more than one person should enter the ATM. Each ATM  kiosk should have a separate enclosure and they should not have opaque doors or shelters, it should have collapsible see through doors or gates.”

Manogna Hariharan, a sales executive, thinks ATMs need to be made secure for everybody, and not just women. “Security guards these days are frail, old men who snooze inside ATMs or aren’t present half the time. We need capable security guards, and a system which ensures there is a security guard at all times. I also think all ATMs must have adequate lighting during night hours. They should also have reflective mirrors to allow customers a rear view while using the machine,” says Manogna.

Control access to kiosk

"First of all, the quality of CCTV cameras needs to improve. What is the point of the camera if the quality is so poor that you cannot see the face of the criminal clearly? Also, access to the ATM needs to be controlled. Some ATMs in India already have the facility where one needs to swipe their card to be able to enter the kiosk. This needs to be made mandatory for all the ATMs, across the country," says Aishwarya V, a media professional.

Avoid visits at night

Actress Shubha Punja feels it is good that the government has taken stringent action on those ATM kiosks that don't have security guards.

"Also, they should not allow ATMs in residential areas and prefer to have them in commercial buildings or where there is lot of crowd.

"I always pick and choose my ATM centre and make sure to go only during busy hours. It is always better to keep money in hand in advance. Even though ATMs are open 24/7, it is not advisable for women and even men to go and withdraw cash during the night. Parking one's vehicle close  to the ATM and not at a distance while withdrawing money and being alert while getting in are important rules to follow," she adds.

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