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Fuel Bilking (518A/22)


  1. How many reports of bilking (driving off without paying for fuel) have been made to West Midlands Police for the following months please – January 2022, February 2022 and March 2022.
  2. Could the figures please be broken down by month with any possible information on locations referred to also included if possible.
  3. Of these reports how many resulted in an arrest or charge being made, or an alternative outcome? Can this again be broken down month by month please.


Section 3 of the Theft Act 1978 creates the offence of making off without payment, sometimes known as ‘bilking’:

Section 3 – Making off without payment

(1)Subject to subsection (3) below, a person who, knowing that payment on the spot for any goods supplied or service done is required or expected from him, dishonestly makes off without having paid as required or expected and with intent to avoid payment of the amount due shall be guilty of an offence.

(2)For purposes of this section “payment on the spot” includes payment at the time of collecting goods on which work has been done or in respect of which service has been provided.

(3)Subsection (1) above shall not apply where the supply of the goods or the doing of the service is contrary to law, or where the service done is such that payment is not legally enforceable.

The term ‘goods supplied or services done’ in relation to the offence is not defined in the Theft Act 1978, but it includes allowing a motorist to fill his/her tank at a self-service petrol station, which was one of the main areas of offending for which this provision was created. It is important to note though that it does not exclusively refer to this, but could also include for example; payment for a taxi, or a meal in a restaurant etc.

However, for the purposes of this request, all ‘Making off without payment offences’ (Home Office Code: 53/25), recorded during January 2022 to March 2022, were reviewed to identify only those that relate to the specific requirements of this request i.e. ‘driving off without paying for fuel’. Please find attached (518A_22_attachment.pdf).

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.

The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.