The British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS), the body that campaigns to reduce crime on forecourts, has written to Home Office minister Norman Baker MP in a bid to bring to his attention the fact that the organisation has recovered £1.5 million as a direct result of forecourt retailers taking positive action to reduce crime and losses from people claiming they have No Means of Payment (NMoP).
Kevin Eastwood, executive director at BOSS, explained: “It’s disappointing to hear recent comments from Norman Baker at the Home Office. We’ve worked closely with the Home Office for many years now to find new and improved ways of tackling crime on forecourts. The BOSS Payment Watch scheme is an excellent example that has proved extremely popular and effective for forecourt retailers. Since the scheme began in 2011, it has now recovered £1.5 million for participating retailers and more than £400,000 this year alone.”
Eastwood continued: “Government does recognise the work retailers are doing, and we’ve now been asked to present our findings to the Home Office later this month. Hopefully, Mr Baker will be able to attend that meeting. We’ve found that by forming stronger relationships between retailers, the police and oil companies, incidents of forecourt crime drop quite significantly. Where crime does occur, we’ve worked diligently with the authorities to bring offenders, and particularly multiple repeat offenders before the courts.”
Advancing that last theme, Eastwood commented: “We’ve used technology to become more proactive in targeting serial offenders. Thousands of incident reports collated by BOSS members have been analysed. By identifying repeat offenders, who often operate across police boundaries, we can then prepare evidence and help the police service bring those offenders who abuse No Means of Payment schemes to justice.”
BOSS has been instrumental in initiating a steady flow of prosecutions. Recent successes include the case of Aaron Cawley, who was jailed for ten months at Gloucester Crown Court for stealing £1,000 of petrol between July 2011 and October 2013.
BOSS crime reports also help Government agencies. Recent evidence submitted regarding multiple offending has been used in anti-terrorist prosecutions in addition to cases involving illegal immigration.
More than 1,600 service stations are members of the BOSS Payment Watch scheme. Those members include major independents such as MRH, Sewell on the Go and the Central England Co-operative.
Thames Valley Police teams up with BOSS
BOSS has joined forces with Thames Valley Police to introduce a new Forecourt Watch scheme designed to reduce crime at 38 petrol station forecourts within the Cherwell and West Oxfordshire areas.
Forecourt Watch creates a closer link between the police service, BOSS and retail staff in order to increase awareness, prevention and the reporting and recording of incidents. The Cherwell and West Oxfordshire scheme is being rolled out at 16 key sites and is the latest addition to 126 schemes already operational across the UK.
Sergeant Kevin Tobin from Thames Valley Police stated: “Working with the police enables garages to reduce thefts from forecourts by an average of 25 per month. One area manager with garages in the Cherwell scheme has seen a substantial drop in losses, and indeed suggests that those forecourts are now his best performing sites. The scheme provides early information on stolen number plates, in turn allowing forecourt staff to take action and prevent offences from being committed.”
BOSS is addressing the problem of forecourt crime on several fronts. At a local level, Forecourt Watch schemes are operating successfully. Losses have been shown to fall by up to 55%.
There are currently 126 Forecourt Watch schemes in operation, all of them initiated by BOSS on behalf of its retail members. They help to forge productive working relationships between retailers and local police and ensure the swift and efficient detection of forecourt crime.
Crime on Britain’s forecourts cost UK fuel retailers a staggering £25.7 million in 2012, up from £22.2 million in 2010. The main source of the estimated total loss is £20.4 million resulting from drive-off incidents – up 31% compared from a total of £15.5 million in 2010 – with a further £4.2 million lost due to motorists claiming to have No Means of Payment who then fail to return to clear their debt.