Shropshire Town Looks to Deter ‘Boy Racers’
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Market Drayton could be employing the use of cameras to deter boy racers in the town.
Residents have been blighted by loud engines, music and reckless driving at the public car parks at Tower’s Lawn. Now the council has agreed to try and get cameras installed to help tackle the issue.
An appeal was made by residents to the region’s police and crime commissioner John Campion at a public meeting. Campion spoke at the Festival Drayton Centre where members of the public also aired their concerns.
At the meeting, town councillors agreed to ask Shropshire Council for permission to install CCTV at two of the Towers Lawn car parks.
"Residents of Smithfield Road commented on issues regarding the Towers Lawn car parks and the noise from ‘boy racers’ late into the night," said Market Drayton Town Council's Roy Aldcroft.
"Not just engine noises but loud music. The police have issued a number of warnings regarding their ability to confiscate and scrap vehicles should circumstances warrant it.
A Long-Standing Issue
The problem with ‘boy racers’ isn’t a new one for the town. For years residents have complained about engine noise at night with some residents being too scared to take their dogs for a walk at night due to the town being used as a race circuit.
In 2016, CCTV was installed in the town for four months in Towers Car Park. At the time, Constable Mick Sturland of the town’s safer neighbourhood team said it hoped it would deter and capture people driving unsafely.
He added that at the time the CCTV and increased awareness worked in helping to deter anti-social driving.
In June this year, a Market Drayton resident expressed his concerns over anti-social driving in the Lidl car park.
“So once again we have boy racers back in action tonight at the Lidl car park screeching around, revving engines so loud, then racing on public roads well over the speed limit. Can nothing be done to stop this behaviour?” “These guys have no consideration for the residents or police.”
Another commenter stated that the CCTV needs to be put around Shropshire to stop the boy racers.
Oswestry is also facing a growing problem with boy racers and the police have warned they will act over reports received of nuisance caused by anti-social driving.
In mid-August nuisance caused by ‘boy racers’ driving their cars around Oak Street car park with similar incidents being reported elsewhere in Oswestry.
Police Tackle Anti Social Driving in Shropshire
In June this year, West Mercia Safer Neighbourhood Team for South Shropshire ran Operation Vulture to curb antisocial driving in the area.
Operation Vulture aimed to disrupt and prevent night time criminality across Shropshire.
The operation saw police take out checks in various policing areas, stop-checking vehicles and occupants where there were grounds to do so. They used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems to target individuals believed to be associated with criminal activity.
South Shropshire Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Nicola Roberts said: "The aim of the operation was to enable officers to address antisocial driving and target criminals known to be involved in crime while promoting road safety so we are pleased with these results and hope they demonstrate another day of activity to tackle vehicle crime within the county.
"We continue to work hard to prevent and disrupt further offences, and hope the public are reassured that we are taking vehicle crime seriously.
"Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to remind anyone who is thinking of committing vehicle crime within Shropshire that Operation Vulture is in progress, and the chance of you getting caught is real and significant."
The major two-day crackdown saw 86 vehicles stopped on the first night and three arrests made in connection with driving under the influence of drugs.
The second night took a dramatic turn, with police taking chase after officers indentified a suspicious vehicle with cloned number plates. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle before it crashed into a hedge. The driver and passengers fled on foot into nearby fields.
A helicopter was deployed by the National Police Air Service and apprehended all five suspects a short time later. A firearm was seized a few metres away from the vehicle.
On the same night, the police also stopped 69 vehicles and made one arrest.
Anti Social Use of Vehicles
While racing and performing stunts in cars may seem like harmless fun with very little impact, it can amount to more than just noise pollution.
Some vehicles may be used to perform stunts and tricks such as doughnuts and wheelies, whether on public roads or in car parks. It can be extremely dangerous for both driver and bystanders.
West Merica Police said; “It can also cause noise nuisance, especially if taking place at night in residential areas.
“For this reason, this kind of behaviour is not permitted unless as part of an organised event with prior permission from the local authority.”
Street racing is the illegal racing of any kind of vehicle on a public road.
“Street racing is extremely dangerous as it can involve high speeds, weaving through traffic and ignoring traffic signals like red lights. This obviously puts other road users and members of the public in an extremely dangerous position.
The only time street racing is permitted is when the organiser has obtained prior permission from the police as part of an organised event,” said West Mercia Police.
Street cruising is another form of vehicle nuisance. This usually involves a group of vehicles driving up and down a street or around a neighbourhood, possibly to show off their cars or bikes.
“They’ll often drive slowly and may even take up both sides of the road. This can hold up traffic behind and make things really difficult for other road users.”
The effects of anti-social driving can lead to criminal damage to the roads and other vehicles of surrounding properties.
Other members of the community may also find it intimidating due to the loud engines, noisy music and the deliberate cause of large amounts of exhaust and tyre smoke.
West Mercia Police added: “The use of motorbikes and mopeds to rob (or 'snatch') mobile phones and valuables from pedestrians on pavements is a key concern to the police. So anyone acting recklessly on this kind of vehicle is likely to draw police attention.”
What Can You Do?
West Mercia Police advise that if you know the people involved and they seem approachable, then speak to them calmly or leave a note as they might not be aware they are causing a problem.
However, they warn not to take the law into your own hands by intervening such as turning off their music, making physical threats or attempting to confiscate items. This could make the situation worse and risk you committing an offence yourself.
If you prefer not to talk to them or if talking hasn’t worked then you can report anti-social behaviour through the West Mercia Police website.