He replied (also offering a personal discussion): "First, I can assure you that there has been no change in the law. We expect the police to investigate all crimes. However the extent to which any crime is investigated, and the nature of that investigation, are operational matters for the police... are using their discretion which will see them identifying vulnerabilities and aggravating factors to decide how to proceed."
Meanwhile, he has resurrected the Forecourt Crime Senior Steering Group, in order to take forward a programme of work across Government, industry and law enforcement to combat criminals making off with fuel without payment. The group will be overseeing delivery of work looking at improving partnership between industry and the police, and identifying how else business and industry can work together to combat criminality.
They would also like to understand better the longer-term picture in terms of innovation and product development and plan to involve manufacturers to identify opportunities to design out crimes, and to understand better how this can be done.
PRA has been invited to take part in this Steering Group and our aims include ensuring the minister and his officials understand that:
the current tsunami of forecourt crime involves more than just drive-offs and NMOP's
with many female cashiers and limited on-site numbers for operational and cost reasons, forecourt staff must definitely be included in the 'vulnerable' category
it is not financially feasible for retailers to move 100% to 'pay-at-the-pump' solutions
it is not helpful if police authorities have different attitudes towards such crime as criminals do not recognise any boundaries
it is not helpful if police authorities record forecourt crime using different criteria (if recording does take place).
To better inform the minister and his officials, PRA will be asking members to provide examples of poorly managed, ineffective or non-response to criminal acts on their forecourt and in their shops.