Fuel retailers are again being warned to take precautions against lawless gangs of motorbike, moped and scooter riders who may take to the roads over Halloween.
The warning has come from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), but in the past crime and disorder had been caused by gangs in several cities.
After a number of forecourts in the capital were targeted by gangs in 2017 the MPS contacted operators last year to help them prepare for any trouble.
In the event there was no major outbreaks targeting forecourts, and the MPS said there were suggestions the police activity may have helped to deter them.
An MPS spokesman said there was no intelligence to suggest activities were planned this year, but he warned that the organisers were becoming increasingly skilled at hiding their plans within closed social media networks.
The MPS is encouraging petrol filling stations to take the following precautions over the Halloween period:
1. Report any theft of fire extinguishers immediately to police, referring to the potential for consequent motorcycle anti-social behaviour.
2. Check CCTV systems to ensure they are operating correctly, so that cameras provide clear images of vehicles, registration plates and riders.
3. Make sure cameras are covering vulnerable areas and consider displaying prominent signage re the use of CCTV and ANPR where available.
4. Consider refusing fuel to riders unless vehicle number plates are clearly visible.
5. For the Halloween period, consider operating in night trading mode, restricting access to kiosks and shops and removing all non-essential items such as marketing displays and loose signage from public areas, particularly open forecourts.
6. Consider requiring motorcyclists to remove helmets and make their faces visible, as it can help with identification later on if required. This has increased effect when supported by prominent signage to alert customers prior to drawing fuel.
7. Where possible, consider requiring customers to prepay for fuel. Clear notices with this request may provide a sufficient deterrent to those contemplating fuel theft.
8. Consider refusing to supply fuel to those filling jerry cans, as these are often used in conjunction with unmarked vans to move stolen motorbikes used in crime.
9. Consider refusing to supply fuel to groups of motorcyclists.
Retailers are encouraged to contact police and notify them of any suspicious activity, including groups gathering or engaging in anti-social behaviour, particularly involving motorcycles.
In addition, the MPS suggests retailers may wish to consider the following measures which have proved successful on previous occasions:
• Ensure all staff are alerted to the possibility of a rideout and are suitably briefed on how to respond.
• Remove any “A frames”, baskets or other equipment which is located outside of the site.
• Close and lock any forecourt bunkers.
• Ensure any loose stock or uncollected newspapers are brought inside.
• Consider liaison with the relevant local fire authority that over the Halloween period only: all fire extinguishers be moved from the forecourt area to the interior of the kiosk or shop but ensuring they are easily accessible to colleagues in case of emergency (this is a proportionate and effective tactic, where previously extinguishers have been deliberately stolen to be used as weapons).
• Should significant numbers of riders arrive at a site consider:
o Switching off pumps by using the emergency stop button and locking the site exit/entrance door.
o Requesting the removal of helmets and face coverings such as scarves or bandanas before the purchasing of fuel.
o Refusal to release pumps for sales involving petrol ‘jerry’ can transactions.
• Be aware that your actions may be filmed or photographed during the event.
• Report any incidents or sightings of large groups of bikers, even if they do not stop at your site, to the police dialling 999 or 101 as appropriate.
• Retain any CCTV of the event.