‘Hundreds of postmasters’ installing CCTV as protection against Horizon

Richard Trinder has spent £2,500 on security cameras at his Post Office, allowing him to monitor his counter
Richard Trinder has spent £2,500 on security cameras at his Post Office branch in Sheffield, allowing him to monitor his counter

Hundreds of postmasters have installed CCTV behind their counters to protect themselves from any future Horizon errors, a sub-postmaster has claimed.

Richard Trinder, who runs a branch in Sheffield, spent £2,500 two years ago on security cameras, allowing him to monitor his counter.

More than 900 sub-postmasters were prosecuted after being wrongfully blamed for fictional shortfalls produced by Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon system.

The 63-year-old, who runs the 900-member strong campaign group Voice of The Postmaster, told The Telegraph: “The decision was motivated by a need to ensure I could cover myself if there ever was a shortfall and I know hundreds of other sub-postmasters have done the same.

“While the Post Office says this upgraded version of Horizon is meant to be more robust than the previous version – that still doesn’t instil a lot of confidence, given what has happened.

“There is still a deep culture of mistrust between sub-postmasters and the Post Office.”

Mr Trinder also admitted that any discrepancies that become apparent in his daily cash count, can be “heart-stopping”.

The sub-postmaster said: “It is something that really struck me when I watched Mr Bates vs The Post Office, that feeling of panic you can get when you are going through the daily cash count.

“A discrepancy might just be caused by human error, but it doesn’t stop you being affected when you get that heart-stopping message that says, ‘This declaration does not match the system derived figure’.

Mr Trinder said CCTV can also be used if thieves or scammers enter branches.

It comes after yet another tumultuous week for the Post Office.

Henry Staunton, the former Post Office chairman, appeared in public for the first time since telling The Sunday Times that he had been asked to stall compensation payments for Horizon victims ahead of the next General Election.

At a select committee meeting on Tuesday, Mr Staunton told MPs that Nick Read, the Post Office’s chief executive, was under investigation by the organisation’s own HR department.

Nick Read speaks at the Post Office inquiry
Henry Staunton claims Nick Read (pictured) was under investigation by the Post Office - Reuters

Mr Staunton also claimed Mr Read had threatened to resign on several occasions and was unhappy with his pay.

Later that week, Kevin Hollinrake, the Post Office minister, revealed that Mr Read had demanded his salary be doubled from £415,000 to £830,000.

The requested raise, which Mr Staunton asked on behalf of Mr Read, was denied by Grant Shapps, the then business secretary.

A spokesman for Mr Staunton later said that Mr Staunton thought the chief executive’s demands were “outrageous”.

‘It’s driving us mad’

Speaking of the events of last week, Mr Trinder said: “I and many other postmasters believe that Mr Read’s position is untenable.

“Every morning you wake up to a new thing and it’s driving us mad.”

A Post Office spokesman said it was the organisation’s “long-stated intent” to replace Horizon with a new cloud-based system for a number of years.

He added: “There have been several versions of Horizon since its introduction in 1999 and the current version of the system, introduced from 2017, was found in the group litigation to be robust, relative to comparable systems.

“We are now much more transparent when it comes to alerting postmasters about bugs with the Horizon system.”

He continued: “We’d encourage any postmaster who is experiencing an issue with Horizon today to raise that with their dedicated area manager or via our branch support centre.”