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Metropolitan’s safe deposit facilities are strategically placed in the inner central area of Metropolitan London. The Company is the largest independent provider of this service in the United Kingdom. The two vaults provide thousands of boxes in 16 different sizes ranging from one-foot square and two-inch high boxes up to walk-in secure storage areas. The locations of the vaults are in Knightsbridge and St John’s Wood.
Both vaults were designed, built and fitted out by Rosengrens of Sweden who are regarded as world leaders in this field. The vaults are specially constructed with massive physical strength and equipped with sophisticated alarm and surveillance systems. It is believed that this type of vault, when locked with the time locked doors, has never been successfully breached.
The alarms cover not only the vault fabric and perimeter, but also each individual box. The safe deposit boxes are automated and controlled by a computer used by a security officer to supervise automatically the use of any of the boxes. All alarm systems are monitored 24 hours a day by alarm company monitoring stations, which are in direct contact with the Police.
The sophisticated alarm and control systems within the vaults give Metropolitan significant business advantages. They give the particular advantage of permitting the public to open their boxes without the necessity of an accompanying guard. The computer identifies each customer by means of an electronic card with an exclusive PIN number. This provides the customer with immediate access and a visit to a box can be completed within a few minutes of arrival. For longer visits, private rooms and booths are available to allow customers to consult papers or documents.
The background to the requirement for safe deposit facilities is well known. The trend of domestic burglaries has been rising sharply and there seems little hope that this situation will improve very much. The installation of home safety provides only limited protection since, particularly if it is suspected that items of high value are present, robberies are increasingly taking place with owners being forced to open safes under threat of physical violence. The corollary of this rise in the number of burglaries is that insurance premiums have risen very sharply, and in certain locations and for particular types of items, the cost is now almost prohibitive. The safe deposit provides a convenient method of avoiding the risks and costs of having valuables at home.
Traditionally, security-minded people have tended to use the clearing banks for depositing valuables and documents, but this has a number of drawbacks for both the customer and the banks. It is inconvenient for the customer, since his/her visits must necessarily be made during banking hours and it is normally necessary to make an appointment. On the bank’s side, staff must be provided to supervise visits and considerable space is taken up. With the increasing rationalisation of branch banking networks and reduction in staffing levels, safe deposit facilities are not high on a bank’s list of priorities. Metropolitan continues to take full advantage of the banking industry’s declining appetite for providing safe deposit facilities to its customers.