For more than 20 years BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate, has worked closely with fuel retailers, police, government departments and other agencies to reduce crime. So how disappointing was it to hear from Norman Baker, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention and the chief constable of Durham during the summer that they blamed retailers for customers who drive-off without paying for fuel? Very disappointing indeed, but it did highlight how ill-informed they are regarding the issues we face.
We’ve found that by forming stronger relationships between fuel retailers, police and oil companies, incidents of forecourt crime can be reduced significantly. And where crime does occur, we’ve worked with the authorities to put offenders before the courts, especially with multiple offenders.
We’ve used technology to become more proactive in targeting serial offenders and thousands of incident reports from BOSS members have been analysed. By identifying repeat offenders, who often operate across police boundaries, we can prepare and submit evidence packages to the police in order for them to arrest and charge offenders who serially claim to have ’no means of payment’ and bring them to justice.
During the past 12 months, almost 200 cases have come to court with a satisfactory judicial disposal in almost every case, with another 500 currently being processed. Not a bad effort for retailers who are supposed to be doing little to help themselves!
The fuel retail industry has taken considerable strides forward to tackle forecourt crime but it is only with the help and support of the police and other government agencies that we can succeed in the fight. We know that police resources are under immense pressure so it is important that retailers play their part and put in place robust systems that ensure that they are taking responsibility to protect their own business activities within the law.
Since the minister and the chief constable made their comments, BOSS has made representations to both and received a positive hearing. In the same way that retailers must accept responsibility for providing accurate, detailed and timely evidence, then the police must accept their responsibilities to investigate crime when it occurs and take the action required.