Force motorists to prepay for fuel to curb drive-offs, urges police chief

Written by Ellie

Fuel stations should force motorists to pay for their fuel in advance, according to one of Britain’s top police chiefs.

The move would cut out the threat of ‘drive-offs’ and free up time for police officers to focus on more serious crimes, explained Simon Cole, the National Police Chiefs Council’s lead on local policing.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Cole said fuel companies could instantly erase the problem of ‘bilking’ – where people drive off without paying for their fuel – by making motorists pay for their fuel before filling up.

But he accused forecourts of prioritising profits due to the potential impulse sales generated by customers walking into mini-supermarkets at fuel stations.

“The petroleum industry could design out bilking in 30 seconds by making people pay up front, which is what they do in other countries,” said Mr Cole.

“They don’t because the walk up in their shops is part of their business offer.”

Crime on the rise

The number of drive-off thefts has increased to around 25,000 a year and some forces have reported annual rises of up to 40 per cent, as petrol prices steadily climbed.

Some forces no longer investigate thefts under £50 if there is no proof of criminal intent.

Likewise, violent crime increased significantly through 2017, with stalking and harassment up by a third, while the number of violent incidents without injury climbed by 24.8 per cent. Overall, the total number of violent offences shot up by 20.5 per cent to 1.3 million incidents.

Couple this crime boom with cuts in officer numbers (22,000 fewer since 2010) and police time is more valuable than ever.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “In the US, it has become the norm for customers to pay for fuel at the pump with a credit or debit card.

“But this system has naturally sparked a dip in profits, with fewer people setting foot in the forecourt stores.”


Photo: Shutterstock

Posted on 5th November 2018

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