Cardtronics is ramping up security measures across its UK ATM network in a bid to counter the rising wave of cash machine attacks taking place across the country.

Following the addition of SmartWater spray technology to Cashzone ATMs in Co-op food stores last year, the ATM operator is now introducing the spray across its entire estate of Cashzone, Bank Machine, DC Payments and Omnicash branded machines.

The programme, running under the Secure ATM brand, is also being stepped up with new enhancements that make the SmartWater system even more effective.

It is also being supported by an expert team of external partners, ranging from local Police forces through to security technology companies and IT specialists.

The number of successful attacks on Co-op cash machines fell by a third between January and June 2018 following the SmartWater implementation in late 2017, Cardtronics added.

The technology renders any cash that is stolen useless and enables the stolen money to be tracked covertly.

The announcement comes as the number of UK ATM attacks grows and follows reports of attacks moving from urban centres into suburban and rural locations, Cardtronics said.

“These attacks on ATMs are a crime against the community,” Marc Terry, managing director, International for Cardtronics, added. “Not only are they dangerous but they deprive communities of vital access to their cash.

“We operate over 200,000 ATMs worldwide and the recent spike in UK ATM attacks is truly alarming and far worse than our experience in other countries.

“Anyone planning to attempt to steal the cash from our machines should worry; our technology, the application of artificial intelligence and our close working relationship with the police means we have an even better chance of catching and convicting the people intent on destroying this vital community amenity.”

Jonathan James, director of James Convenience Retail, welcomed the move. “Crime against cash machines is becoming a real epidemic and it’s got to the point where doing nothing is not an option any-more.

“Anything that helps to deter or thwart the crime has got to be worth it,” he told Convenience Store.

Co-op Food chief operating officer, Chris Whitfield, added: “There are many people in our communities - including the more vulnerable in society and, many local small businesses - who rely on access to cash.

“The provision of financial services, such as a free ATM, is widely considered to be an essential service, supporting local economies and promoting financial inclusion.

“Crime affects all operators. And, safety and security is a top priority – the Co-op works closely with Police and other crime prevention bodies, employing a range of measures designed to deter and disrupt criminal activity, while increasing the likelihood of capture and conviction.”