New technology launched to battle crime at petrol stations
Early this year the Devon and Cornwall Police addressed the issue of non-payment and drive offs in petrol forecourts and publically stated that, “The Force will no longer be deploying officers to attend these reports and make contact with the member of the public on behalf of the garage, unless there is evidence of linked offending or vulnerability.”
Many forces are following suit and as a result Police Forces across the country are following the lead of other public sector organisations and increasingly utilising online tools to streamline and improve their service to the public.
Forecourt Eye is a revolutionary new App and on-line service that enables forecourt retailers and members of the public to monitor forecourt crime – both the criminal offence of “drive offs” (also known as bilking) as well as the civil offence of “no means of payment”, which are a significant source of financial loss for petrol retailers.
In fact, theft of fuel from Britain’s forecourts cost retailers an estimated £31.4-million during 2014 according to a survey from the British Oil Security Syndicate and are increasingly frustrating crimes to deal with for overstretched police forces, diverting essential police time and resource away from more serious crimes.
This pioneering technology, which harnesses file sharing capabilities, allows retailers to instantly send a digital evidence pack to Police (including important CCTV evidence) that is compatible with current Police systems. Furthermore, the Forecourt Eye system allows retailers and the Police to generate intelligent statistics and track repeat offenders.
This is a particular problem for retailers, as perpetrators of forecourt crime are often repeat offenders, targeting service stations in an area, then simply moving on. This preventative function allows retailers to monitor criminals operating in their area, as well as allowing the Police to jointly prosecute these offenders.
In the past, information about offenders who committed crime was shared over crime reports on television or through word-of-mouth; now people share information over social media. Forecourt Eye formalises and improves this method of information sharing for forecourt crime and creates a direct channel to the Police.
Even with George Osbourne’s U-turn announcement not to cut Police budgets, forces are still operating under significant strain. And while Police budgets may be protected in cash terms, it is clear that in real terms Forces operate under significant budgetary constraints. Forecourt Eye, which today went live at the BP Linden Service Station on Dewsbury Road, Leeds is free for Police to use and allows Forces to tackle crime more rapidly and most importantly, more effectively.
Police and retailers have welcomed the Forecourt Eye system, Sergeant Andy Gregory of West Midlands Police says:
“With budget cuts and continuing constraints on Police resources, a system that utilises technology and empowers retailers to tackle crime on their premises is welcomed by West Midlands Police; technology that links retailers electronically to the Police means they can tackle crime faster and more efficiently.”
Mr Farook Asmal of BP Linden Service Station the first to use the system said:
“Forecourt Eye has helped us reduce both drive offs and share information with other retailers to track suspects operating in our area. The system was easy to adopt and simple to use and the startup pack contained a tablet pre-loaded with the all software. All we needed was an internet connection.
“It’s saved us time and money, recovered losses, and has significantly improved our relations with the local police.”