When I meet with forecourt retailers it is not uncommon to be told that they feel the police do not respond when they report incidents. Admittedly how each police force reacts to a report depends on each chief constable who determines how his or her force deploys their resources.
Some forces are better than others. Where there is understanding and co-operation there are often more positive results. For some time now BOSS has looked to develop a range of services that enables us and our members to reduce demands on police time while addressing an incident positively.
We fully appreciate that police forces are under considerable pressure following cuts in funding. So, by taking a proactive approach, we know that stronger partnerships can be forged and that there are greater opportunities to reduce retailer losses, increase recovery and bring persistent offenders before the courts. This approach demands that we as an industry take responsibility to ensure that where incidents do take place the correct evidence is collected and retained.
We’ve been working hard to tackle drive-offs, it’s still the largest issue, and costs retailers about £20m each year. We know drive-offs are difficult to deal with, but our trial of an additional BOSS payment watch service, specifically designed to deal with drive-offs, has shown that we can recover up to 70% of losses if we have adequate information to pursue suspects. What’s exciting about this is that it’s the industry that is taking control of reporting and recovering losses. During the trial only 5% of incidents had to be reported to the police.
We know that technology has a part to play in making it easier to record and report incidents. Having accurate information about incidents quickly gives us the opportunity to pursue customers who have not paid and also prepare evidence that helps prosecutors. There is no doubt the BOSS Electronic Reporting System makes it quick and easy to submit incident reports online, and the accuracy and reliability of electronic information is often better than hand-written reports. The system is available, free of additional charge, to all BOSS members.