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Published:  01 April, 2004

Iíve had some interesting feedback since reporting on Thumbs Up Securityís thumb-print kit, which tackles both the inability to pay problem that besets some customers, and the fraudulent use of cheques/cards.

Margaret Reid, managing director of Thumbs Up Security says she has been inundated with requests for the cheap (£3.60) but effective kit since the story appeared in March. I was also contacted by Chris Hayfield of forecourt consumables company RS Sales and Distribution, alerting me to an initiative undertaken by Kent County Forecourt Watch. Nearly 400 petrol retailers in Kent have joined forces with the police and RS Sales to develop a Security Kit that includes the thumb-print pad but also comprises stanchion signs, stickers, two large posters and a drive-off report form pad. The whole lot costs just £21.99.

Subsequently I spoke to Peter Gore who runs Dumpton Park Garage in Broadstairs, and who is also chairman of the countywide scheme. He told me that there has been an 80 per cent improvement since the scheme was implemented and that Hilary Armstrong, Government chief whip, recently visited Kent Forecourt Watch in an effort to learn more ways of combating crime and anti-social behaviour.

There needs to be a network of these schemes across the country. Chichester has a very active Shopwatch scheme with over 100 participating shops linked via a radio alert system. Police there made an arrest, thought to be the first of its kind in the country, shortly after the introduction of thumb-print kits.

Any of the activists among you keen to get similar programmes going in your own areas can ring Peter Gore for pointers on 01843 863531 or email him at post@dumptonpark.co.uk

Margaret Reid will be happy to discuss supplies of the thumb-print kits. You can call her on 01383 727302.