Police in Darlington have joined forces with the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) and independent retailers to introduce Forecourt Watch in the County Durham town.

Forecourt Watch creates a closer link between police, BOSS and retail staff to increase awareness, prevention and the reporting and recording of incidents. The Darlington scheme, being rolled out to nine key sites, is the latest addition to 126 schemes already operating in the UK.

To celebrate the launch of the scheme in Darlington on Friday July 27, teams of officers and PCSOs attended garage forecourts, speaking to motorists about crime prevention and acting as a visible deterrent to would-be thieves.

PCSO Liam Robertson said: “We’re pleased to be working with BOSS to tackle forecourt crime, which has a huge financial impact and is also linked to other types of criminal offences.”

Dave Young, BOSS co-ordinator for the north east, added: “Drive-off incidents cost the UK oil industry approximately £16m last year. Our aim is to maintain fuel stations as a safe environment for customers and staff, targeting those people who drive off without paying for their fuel and using service stations as a route to commit more serious crimes.”

Research shows that drive-off offences are often linked to offenders or vehicles involved in other types of crime and to disqualified drivers, those without insurance, tax or MOT or vehicles with false plates.