Total claims to have bucked the trend of rising violent crime, cutting incidents of robbery and assault on its forecourts by 56% over the past two years.

Police-recorded crime figures released last month showed a 12% jump in violent crime over the past year and a 1% rise in crime overall. Total puts its crime cuts down to the company’s Anti Assault and Robbery Campaign (AARC).

The AARC – a joint initiative with Crimestoppers – offers financial rewards for information leading to the conviction of perpetrators of crime committed on Total’s forecourts.

Malcolm Jones, managing director of Total UK, said: “Fighting crime is a major challenge right across the retail industry, our solution has been to form close bonds with the communities in which our service stations operate.

“Our relationship with Crimestoppers has enabled us to coordinate more effectively our anti-crime initiatives on a regional and local level, while our service station teams work hard to build an affinity with the communities they serve. By encouraging local people to view the service station as a store that’s very much part of the community, this creates a supportive atmosphere that ultimately helps reduce the incidence of crime.”

Since the AARC campaign was launched in April 2002, robberies at Total forecourts have fallen steadily, and between April 2002 and March 2003, 112 incidents took place, compared to 208 recorded in the previous 12 months. This figure fell again to 90 incidents between April 2003 and March 2004.

Building on the success of the AARC, Total is looking to introduce further measures to combat crime, and is currently evaluating a new number plate recognition system linked to the Police National Computer. The cameras read and cross-reference car number plates with the PNC database in real-time, alerting staff to suspect vehicles as they arrive on the forecourt.

Ian Woodcock, regional manager at Total, said: “Service stations now carry very minimal amounts of cash and we provide our full support to the police when they are pursuing prosecutions.”

Total is not the only oil company to buck the trend in rising crime. BP has reduced violent crime on its forecourts by 50% over the last 12 months and by 66% since 2002.

A spokeswoman for the oil company said: “Initiatives have included improved security and behaviour awareness training for staff, improved security systems installed on sites and additional security screens at high risk locations, as well as developing local police relationships.”

And BOSS’s national industry crime figures for 2003 showed incidents of robbery down by 40% on the previous year.