THREE banks in the territory have come under attack from police for their ''customer-friendly'' approach to security after a spate of robberies last week. The Bank of East Asia is to step up security at its banks across the territory following two armed robberies in two days at its Shanghai Street branch. The bank, along with the Standard Chartered and Wing On banks, has been criticised for what one policeman described as ''loose security'' and for not following police guidelines. Crime Prevention Bureau head Mr Graham Lander said: ''Overall, security in most of the banks is not too bad. About 60 per cent are closed banks and pretty adequate screening prevents them [staff] giving in to the demands of armed robbers. ''But Standard Chartered, Bank of East Asia and Wing On Bank still follow the customer-friendly open plan approach.'' Mr Lander said while the number of robberies dropped last year to 94 from 147 in 1991, the figures would have been even lower if not for almost 30 robberies at Standard Chartered branches. ''With robberies on the decline throughout last year, if you'd taken Standard Chartered Bank from the statistics, it would have been a magnificent year,'' he said. ''Standard Chartered Bank does contribute to the large number of bank robberies.'' Three of the bank's branches in Choi Hung, Kwai Chung and Queen's Road West were hit last Wednesday with almost $100,000 snatched. Standard Chartered's regional security adviser, Mr Manson Garrick, said security was constantly reviewed and improved, adding the bank was presently in the middle of a six-month upgrading programme. ''We have gone for a customer-friendly approach and we believe the measures we have in place provide excellent security. Everybody in the bank agrees we are out to provide the best possible environment for customers so they can do business in a secure and friendly environment,'' Mr Garrick said. But Mr Lander said the bank had only gone part of the way towards implementing the security measures recommended by the police when they installed bullet-proof screens. ''There is still a hole in the screen which leaves a gap for someone to poke a gun through so they are still leaving themselves open to threat. The split screen is only a marginal improvement,'' he said. ''Unfortunately, that's the way they are going. Our aim is to put staff in a safe area where they can refuse to hand over money.'' Mr Garrick said Standard Chartered staff were as well protected as staff in many other banks worldwide. He said full-screen bullet resistant protection was one of a host of security measures. Banks Association secretary Mr Steve Troop said the spate of robberies was discussed at a meeting last Friday and a reminder of security guidelines was passed on to all members. ''We were a bit surprised by the spate of robberies, and are hoping this is just a spike in the numbers, because there had been such a discernible downward trend,'' he said. The Crime Prevention Bureau advises banks on security measures giving both procedural advice and suggestions on how to beef up security. ''Certain measures are adopted when a robbery takes place to minimise the losses so the bank concedes to suffer a marginal loss or a robbery is avoided,'' Mr Lander said. ''Procedural matters are only a secondary line of defence. The first has to be a screen and until you do that, you're leaving everyone open and in a threatening situation. ''Not everyone remembers procedure or even complies with it.'' Mr David Li Kwok-po, chairman of the Bank of East Asia, said he was informed of the robberies while he was in New York last week. ''I met with my staff and my security department as soon as I returned from New York on Friday afternoon, on strengthening security. ''We don't want to be customer-unfriendly but we have to find a balance between customer service and security for our customers,'' Mr Li said. The bank has set up a committee to look into security. ''They have already met to discuss how to tackle this problem. We don't want it to happen again,'' a spokesman said. Bank of East Asia staff admitted they were worried about safety following last week's robberies, with one teller saying ''it was a terrible experience''. ''A middle-aged man came to our counter and gave me a note saying, 'Don't move, give me money quick, or else I will shoot you dead'. ''All we could do was give him the money as soon as possible and the man escaped. ''It is hard to imagine if the man had shot us. I am really afraid and worried,'' she said.