Essex: Police step up patrols to tackle illegal road racers

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POLICE are taking action against rogue drivers who race and perform stunts at gatherings that attract hundreds of car enthusiasts.

Officers from the Essex Police Casualty Reduction Section are stepping up patrols to deal with illegal ‘road racing’ by drivers who are risking their lives and the lives of race spectators.

Sergeant Simon Willsher, who is leading Operation Wagtail, the force’s response to road racing, said: “We have no problems with the hundreds of enthusiasts who enjoy getting together at cruiser events to show off their pride and joy motors and talk about their passion for cars.

“Our concern is about the reckless minority who race on roads that are not built for racing and are travelling at high speed with spectators only a few inches away from them.

“It is only a matter of time before one of these cars goes out of control and causes fatalities or serious injuries.”

Weekend patrols are now being increased around Lakeside, Basildon and Canvey, all areas where cruisers have congregated in the past few years. But the team of officers will be able to quickly get to any other locations in the county whenever problems are reported.

Plans are also in place to attend an event being planned for the Braintree area and an event planned for Lakeside on May 4.

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Sgt Willsher added: “Local residents and the genuine enthusiasts at the cruiser events are sick and tired of the way the racers take over, cause noise nuisance and put lives in danger.

“They don’t seem to realise that they can get an automatic ban if they go to court for road racing or careless driving. But we will certainly be using all available legislation which allows us to summons offenders to court or have their cars seized.

“We obviously won’t disclose our tactics, however anyone considering flouting traffic laws and selfishly putting others at risk should be aware that many of our cars are video-equipped and we won’t hesitate to put them before the courts, where the magistrates will see their reckless driving and sentence accordingly.”

At a race event at Lakeside on Saturday April 20 eight drivers were reported for careless driving or road racing, three were reported for being uninsured, eight were given verbal warnings for various offences and 18 were given fixed penalty fines of £30 for causing unnecessary obstructions.

Four drivers were also dealt with for speeding, three drivers were stopped for using mobile phones.

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