The government is planning to introduce fixed penalty fines for drive-offs at petrol stations. The proposal, which would mean an on-the-spot-fine of £80 for offenders, is part of a new raft of extra powers proposed to be added to the controversial fixed penalty fines. Others include being caught with

cannabis, making threats to destroy property and drunken and yobbish behaviour on trains.

The Penalty Notice Disorder, or PND, was introduced in 2001 to deal with lower levels of criminality. And those given the fines do not get a criminal record or have to appear in court.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “The Ministry of Justice has proposed adding a wide range of new offences to the Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) Scheme, including possession of a class B drug. The order was laid 15 December 2008 and will be debated in both Houses in January.

“PNDs were introduced as part of the government’s strategy to tackle low level anti-social and nuisance behaviour. They enable the police to deliver swift and effective justice for lower level criminality, freeing up the courts and police to concentrate on more serious offences.

“Over 400,000 PNDs have been issued since the scheme was implemented in all 43 police forces in England and Wales in 2004. Punishment can be administered on the spot, driving home the government’s message that such behaviour is unacceptable.

“The list of offences is kept under review and the Ministry of Justice receives suggestions for new ones to be added to the Scheme from a number of stakeholders both inside and out government.

“Currently, a PND may be issued for such offences as being drunk and disorderly in public, destroying or damaging property and selling alcohol to underage customers.”

The spokesman added that the latest proposals would be the subject of a House of Commons debate on January 19th, and would then be debated by the House of Lords on January 22nd.

Kevin Eastwood, executive director of BOSS - the British Oil Security Syndicate - said: “This move is a positive step in tackling ’making off without payment’ offences.

“BOSS has been lobbying for this for several years. We hope the new measure will help the industry by adding a new weapon to the armoury of the police, which ultimately will assist them in taking action against forecourt theft.

"Any move to help our industry stem the current unacceptable level of forecourt losses is viewed favourably by BOSS."