Metropolitan Police has reiterated its warning to service station owners in the Capital to prepare for potential mob violence focused on forecourts over the Halloween weekend.
Last year at Halloween large groups of motorcyclists swooped on forecourts stealing petrol and goods from their shops and in one case a fire extinguisher was thrown through a window.
Inspector Rob Webb said intelligence on the potential event was still extremely limited, but Metropolitan Police was preparing a major operation in case of a repetition.
He warned: “The key sector identified as potentially most vulnerable to their activity is petrol retail.”
Last year the groups gathered in Thamesmead, Bexley and Croydon and incidents were restricted to south London, but he said forecourts across the Capital could be vulnerable. Halloween this year is on a Monday so groups may gather during the preceding weekend.
Metropolitan Police has already contacted some groups operating forecourts in their area and will be keeping forecourts updated through social media.
It has released the following statement:
Over the forthcoming weekend, Friday 28th October 2016 to Monday 31st October 2016, we are likely to see an increase in the number of events taking place in London due to the public marking the occurrence of Halloween.
At the same time last year we saw a ‘bikelife’ event take place in South London during which there were a number of instances of crime and disorder, much of which involved groups of people riding dirt bikes, quads, mopeds, scooters and superbikes, and was focused around filling stations, due to their extended opening hours. The incidents mainly involved incidents of theft and criminal damage.
The Metropolitan Police Service would like to make the public aware that there is a potential for similar activity to take place again this year and provide advice, specially to retailers who will be open this weekend, in particular those operating late into the evening and overnight.
The Metropolitan Police Service has a policing plan in place throughout the weekend, led by Gold London, Commander David Musker, in order to police pre-planned events and respond to any additional demands across London.
We would recommend that retail outlets who may be affected should review their security plans and operating procedures. This could include:
1. Checking CCTV systems and ensuring that they are operating correctly, that cameras cover vulnerable areas and are capable of recording clear images of vehicles, registration plates and riders;
2. It may be prudent to operate in ‘night trading’ mode, restricting access to kiosks and shops to minimise the potential for theft;
3. Consider the removal of non essential items, such as marketing displays and loose signage, from public areas, particularly open forecourts, to minimise the potential of theft and damage;
4. Requesting motorcyclists to remove helmets and make the faces visible to permit subsequent identification if required. This may need to be supported by notices fixed to pumps and proactive use of public address systems to alert customers prior to drawing fuel;
5. Requiring customers to prepay for fuel. Notices to this effect may provide sufficient deterrent to those contemplating fuel theft;
6. Displaying prominent signage regarding the use of CCTV and the requirement for their vehicle to be identifiable prior to drawing fuel;
7. Consider refusing to supply fuel to groups of motorcyclists;
8. Consider refusing to supply fuel to those filling ‘jerry cans’ as these are often used in conjunction with unmarked vans to move stolen motorcycles subsequently used in crime.
During the weekend the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) may provide updates, if appropriate, through CSSC (Cross-sector Safety and Security Communications) and your local borough MPS Twitter feed.
You can sign up to CSSC messaging by visiting http://www.vocal.co.uk/cssc/
We would ask retailers to contact police and notify us of any suspicious activity such as groups gathering or engaging in anti-social behaviour by calling 101 or in an emergency 999.
Crime Prevention Advice
You can help to protect your premises by taking a few sensible precautions. The following points are a list of considerations and are by no means exhaustive:
1. Premises should be suitably staffed with a prominent management presence that can make themselves identifiable to police (in the event of an incursion);
2. Security officers, where possible, should have a visible presence on premises;
3. In the days leading up to an event ensure all staff are fully briefed;
4. All staff should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to security and / or police;
5. Consider minimising the number of entry points to your building;
6. Ensure that the building perimeters are clear of debris, dustbins, ladders or loose tools and equipment;
7. Check that your emergency equipment/grab bags/ first aid supplies and radio communications;
8. Check and test building security and emergency systems;
9. Ensure that all members of staff are fully aware of any emergency/evacuation procedures;
10. Ensure CCTV coverage is fully operational and can provide the highest recording resolution as possible.