More than 1,100 retailers have joined the BOSS Payment Watch debt recovery scheme, and thanks to joint working between retailers, BOSS, our police partners and the Crown Prosecution Service, significant numbers of criminals are now facing justice.
So far this year BOSS has successfully identified 175 individuals who are multiple offenders. They claimed on numerous occasions to have no means of paying for fuel at the time, promised to pay, then failed to return and do so. Police are currently investigating and processing over 140 of these individual cases. Some are for just a few instances but others are for as many as 18 cases of failure to repay. So far 20 individuals have been arrested and charged with, hopefully, many more to follow.
We are developing systems to identify multiple offenders. Our sophisticated database enables us to pick out previous offenders using details including name, known aliases and addresses, as well as vehicle registrations.
Our objective is to ensure that potential offenders know that if they do not pay for fuel they cannot escape their debts and are, where appropriate, prosecuted. We are working with police forces, the DVLA and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that motorists whose behaviour shows they did not intend to pay, particularly repeat offenders, are pursued rigorously.
Prevention is, of course, better than cure. BOSS is working on a nationwide database of registration marks of all vehicles known to be associated with incidents of non-payment for fuel. Retailers would be able to link their ANPR system to the database and an alert would be triggered when a vehicle on the database is detected. Then the pump could either be automatically disabled or the site staff could manually decline to authorise the pump, inviting the motorist to pay in advance for their fuel. Cashiers would be able to supply information on how to contact the database management to correct errors. This will be a major deterrent that could deny criminals access to fuel. These advances have the potential to drive down forecourt crime. Good, vigilant staff practice will remain essential, but technology can help us to stay one step ahead of criminals and to bring them swiftly to justice.