It’s hard to believe but some police forces still treat theft of fuel as a civil offence. Revised Home Office guidance for Making Off Without Payment, issued in April, makes it clear that where an incident is intentional then a crime has been committed.

At the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS), we’ve redoubled our efforts to ensure that after incidents where customers deliberately drive off without paying, the police investigate and record the incident as a crime, tracing and pursuing offenders and then bringing them to justice.

In 2009, improvements to the national rules around the recording by police of these offences were made, thanks to tireless campaigning by BOSS. The Home Office’s National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) has now been further amended to clarify that, on the balance of probability, deliberate making off without payment is a criminal offence as defined by law. Repeated incidents of no means of payment are also evidence of criminal behaviour.

What has become clear to BOSS is that the collection of evidence needs to be effective and accurate. If it is not, then the police may have reason not to pursue the investigation into these reports of crime.

Here is where our Payment Watch scheme has helped BOSS members. Following tried and tested processes, BOSS has made it less cumbersome to collect and report information about offences. Analysis of reports by BOSS has identified many persistent and repeat offenders, leading to successful prosecutions.

At BOSS we want to work in partnership with the police on behalf of our retail members. There is still much work to be done to show the police that by taking a co-ordinated approach to forecourt crime, detection rates and positive intervention can be significantly improved.

If any BOSS member is not getting the response they feel they should from their local police then, as long as staff are collecting and keeping the proper evidence, BOSS can take steps to challenge the police. Simply let us have the details and we will do what we can to address the issues raised.

But please remember, if you think it’s a genuine mistake and not deliberate, then it is not a police matter and you should be clear on this before you make the call. The police are not here to act as debt collectors.