“Instead of ‘victim blaming’ petrol retailers, the police should be honest that they are struggling to deliver their commitment to reduce crime”, said Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA).
Mr Madderson is responding to comments made by Simon Cole of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) that petrol retailers are inviting criminality by encouraging drivers into forecourt shops and should instead force them to pay at the pump to cut the number of customers driving off without paying.
The PRA and its members regard switching to pay-at-the-pump as prohibitively expensive, estimating the cost to retrofit petrol pumps to take card payments at an average filling station at £20,000, with some industry experts putting the cost higher still.
Mr Madderson went on, “The UK has seen a 40% reduction in filling stations over the past 15 years. Those remaining have developed their retail offer to better serve their customers, with many lost amenities from banks and post offices migrating into the store of petrol stations, particularly in rural areas.”
“Rather than lecturing the victims of crime, the government should be empowering responsible businesses to enforce the law where the police are too overstretched to intervene. One solution would be to give petrol retailers electronic access to the DVLA’s Vehicle Keeper database, so they can pursue drive-offs through the civil courts and ease pressure on the police”.