At a recent meeting with the Attorney General, the country’s senior law officer, BOSS was praised for the work it does in tackling forecourt crime. It was also welcoming to hear from Home Office Minister for Policing, Mike Penning MP, that he’s grateful for the positive way that BOSS is working with the Home Office.
It’s good to know that the government recognises the work fuel retailers are doing and is most successful when retailers, the police and oil companies work in partnership, and often leads to incidents of forecourt crime dropping significantly.
Collecting detailed evidence about each incident is critical. The BOSS Payment Watch scheme has proved extremely effective when the evidence that is collected is accurate. This then allows BOSS to help participating retailers recover a percentage of the financial losses incurred from their No Means of Payment incidents.
We have looked at applying the same principles used for tackling No Means of Payment incidents to drive-offs. We understand that police resources are stretched and that, in some areas, the police do not place the emphasis on recording and pursuing drive-off incidents that retailers expect. Let’s be clear here, we do not want the police to be our debt collectors, but we do want them to tackle criminals who are active within our communities.
Individuals who repeatedly drive-off without paying for fuel are often involved in other criminal activities. The very nature of the crime means that repeat offences often occur in different police areas and police force systems are not well suited to identifying multiple offences by the same vehicle when they occur across police boundaries.
BOSS has now developed a system to tackle drive-off offences in partnership with the police and we plan to launch it formally during the next six months. The new approach has been trialled and it’s shown that approximately 40% of motorists reported as committing a drive-off return to pay when they’re contacted by BOSS and the police.
The benefits, for both retailers and police, are potentially considerable. But to be a success it will need retailers to take responsibility to record details of drive-off incidents accurately and report in a timely manner, through BOSS, to the police.