There’s never been more attention paid to low-level crime (litter, graffiti, drive-offs as opposed to shotgun-up-your-nostrils) by the authorities. The government has its anti-social behaviour orders and most communities have some form of crimewatch. But most impressive of all is Kent Police. I’ve reported on the success of their Forecourt Watch scheme before which has now been widened to the point that Kent Police have a protocol in place for all the forecourts on their patch.
They have sent out ‘self-evidence’ packs to every forecourt in the county for the reporting of forecourt crime other than the ‘crimes in action’ variety.
Peter Gore, who runs Dumpton Park Garage in Broadstairs and who is chairman of Kent County Forecourt Watch, has sent me Kent Police’s step-by-step guide for reporting ‘making off without payment’ and how to manage incidents of ‘no means of payment’.
They recommend phoning 999 if a drive-off has just occurred but if it’s historic then the self-evidence pack should be used and returned within 24 hours to the local police Area Crime Management Unit.
On customers using evasion tactics to avoid paying for fuel, there are some useful pointers in the guidance including staff denying having a ‘debtor’s book’ on the premises and telling the customer they have no authority to agree credit terms.
They should also ask for home telephone numbers which they verify either by checking in the local directory or by ringing them up. The vehicle’s tax disc should be checked to confirm that it agrees with the car’s registration. Any passengers in the car should be asked independently for confirmation of the customer’s name.
Kent Police say it is well worth investing time in following these procedures as word will soon get round that your place is not a soft touch.
Peter Gore tells me that crimes of these sort have been reduced by 80% for the 400 Kent forecourts involved in the scheme.
RS Sales & Distribution has also been actively involved in the Kent initiative as official stockist.
The company can supply a Security Kit comprising stickers, posters, drive-off report pads and the little thumb-print kit you can use to ID your non-paying customers! Ring 01580 893100.
I’ve asked this before, but it’s such a good question, I think I’ll repeat it: if Kent can do this, why can’t the rest of the country?