During the past 12 months forecourt retailers have been taking on more responsibility to help tackle forecourt crime and, in particular, drive-offs. Greater involvement is necessary because police forces need our help.

There has been a steady rise in the number of incidents of forecourt crime, as evidenced by the rise in the BOSS Forecourt Crime Index from 100 in 2015, to 173 in the second quarter of 2019. In 2010 our research established that forecourt crime costs retailers more than £30m annually; two-thirds of crime results from drive-offs with the remainder coming from no means of payment (NMoP) incidents. However, anecdotal evidence and current BOSS data suggests losses could be much higher as many incidents still go unreported and fuel prices have risen. As a result, this is an area that BOSS is reviewing and we intend to update the results of the 2010 research.

Our members acknowledge that drive-offs are difficult to deal with and some retailers recognise they may not have the information required by the police to investigate an incident. BOSS has worked hard over the years to develop solutions which can help retailers capture information and help police to tackle this type of crime more efficiently.

Part of our response has been to extend the reach of BOSS Payment Watch. After extensive trials, the new service now allows drive-offs and NMoPs to be recorded and actioned via a new digital platform. The results indicate a reduction of over 80% in demand on police resources and, if applied across the UK, it could save police forces nearly one million resource hours per annum. It is with help from the new initiative that BOSS has been awarded the ’Specialised Security Organisation of the Year’ at the Innovation and Excellence Awards 2019.

As our new approach spreads across the country it becomes more important for the retail fuel sector to continue to accept that retailers have a responsibility to ensure that, where incidents do take place, the correct evidence is collected and retained. Without clear evidence, steps can’t be taken to either correct mistakes or proactively pursue criminal actions that deprive forecourt retailers of their rightful proceeds.