Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Tackling anti-social driving and illegal car meets in Essex

AS part of our road safety responsibilities, we are committed to tackling illegal car meets and ensuring public safety across our county.

 Unauthorised car meets, or car cruises, are where drivers meet on the public highway or large public car parks to race or show their vehicles to others.

 In recent years, they have gained popularity, often drawing large crowds of spectators and hundreds of cars in one place, distressing local residents through anti-social driving involving excessive noise and speeding.

 Earlier this month, we received information that car meets were planned to take part in locations across our county with hundreds of cars expected (4-6 May).

 In response, we issued a number of Dispersal Orders to address the illegal gatherings.

 Thankfully, a car meet in Tilbury passed off peacefully as drivers followed officers’ directions to leave the area quietly.

 Head of Essex’s Roads Policing Unit, Mr Adam Pipe, explained: “Drivers at these events often engage in anti-social and dangerous driving practices such as drifting, where the driver is not properly in control of their car. 

“This is not a question of spoiling anyone’s fun, this is a very serious matter with potentially very serious consequences to spectators and drivers alike should there be a collision. 

“These events won’t be tolerated and when we are made aware of an unauthorised event, we will take robust action and use all our resources to prevent and disrupt them from taking place.” 

 Dispersal Orders are temporary measures giving officers extra powers to tackle localised issues such as car meets. It allows officers to direct anyone involved in anti-social behaviour to leave the designated area quietly, or risk being arrested.

 It aims to prevent anti-social behaviour and crime taking place, and provides reassurance to the local community and to businesses that we are tackling the issues that concern them the most.

 “We have nothing against genuine car enthusiasts who respect local residents when enjoying their shared passion for their cars.

“However, we will never accept people treating our roads like racetracks,” added Roads Policing Inspector Tim Swain, who leads our response to car meets.

“Last year, we mounted prosecutions against three drivers, all young men, who took part in car meets in Essex. 

“They all gave false details when we issued notices of intended prosecutions, but we persevered and gathered all the evidence of their reckless driving that we needed to bring them to justice. 

“All three narrowly missed being jailed at court, but because their sentences were suspended, if they take part in similar activities, they could be imprisoned immediately.”

 Of the three drivers engaging in “drifting”, a 20-year-old from Romford was issued 20 weeks’ imprisonment, a 23-year-old from Chingford was sentenced to 26 weeks’ imprisonment and a 22-year-old from Northwood, London, was sentenced to 23 weeks’ imprisonment – each being suspended for one year.

 The court also saw fit to order each man to complete 150 hours unpaid work to be completed within 12 months.

 In total, they were expected to pay almost £1,000 between them in fines and costs.

 In addition, each man was disqualified from driving for a year and required to take an extended pass before being allowed back on the road.

 Other powers at officers’ disposal include:

  •  use of section 59 notices warning drivers that if they are caught again, their cars will be seized.
  •  issuing traffic offence reports for breaches of traffic law
  • removal of illegal window tints
  • specially trained officers can examine vehicles for roadworthiness and, if necessary, seize vehicles.

 In the first four months of this year, force wide, we have issued 109 warnings for anti-social driving and seized 17 cars. 

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