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Tackling Road Racing and Antisocial Driving

Saturday, January 29th, 2022

Another appeal for residents to REPORT concerns…

During 2021, we wrote several articles promoting the relaunch of Community Speedwatch. This was timely: for the first time, Speeding supplanted Burglary as the leading residents’ concern in the Forum’s November 2021 survey. Improved systems offer the tools for the public to contribute meaningfully in their neighbourhoods, with the help of Thames Valley Police, in addressing the issue of Speeding.

But residents with hand held speed devices cannot tackle the scourge of reckless and extreme antisocial night time behaviour by drivers. This includes cars racing, drifting (“the act or activity of steering an automobile so that it makes a controlled skid sideways through a turn with the front wheels”), often the wrong way around roundabouts, performing donuts and burnouts etc.

Most often these activities are carried out late at night, sometimes with spectators in attendance, some ‘meets’ being planned and details circulated.

In almost every Forum survey there are complaints of cars racing late at night in Chesham, and using car parks for reckless manoeuvres. And it happens elsewhere. Our attention has been drawn recently to an alarming event in the Great Missenden area, involving souped up ultra loud cars being heard and observed in the Link Road, on the A413 and in a new bus turning circle within a car park. Drifting, overtaking at frightening speed, and all sorts of donuts and rubber burning antics were reported.

Two things stand out from this incident. First, it was relatively early in the evening – from around 7.30pm to 9.30pm, and therefore more likely to be a danger to the general public. Secondly, we are told that a 999 call by a resident who considered the behaviour to be a clear threat to life was not responded to.

The resident was told the police were on the way, but despite the activities lasting some two hours, we are told there was no evidence of police intervention. If true, this is concerning – as a community, we should expect this sort of extreme anti social behaviour to be policed.

The Forum’s remit is to help establish focus areas for our Neighbourhood Policing teams, but we do also try to understand and explain the wider matrix of police resources.

This problem is obviously greater than can be tackled by Neighbourhood Policing teams alone. TVP Roads Policing is, we understand, constantly stretched by the need to cover an extensive network of highways and motorways. And of course, by the need to police similar antisocial activities across the Force area.

Our Neighbourhood Police tell us that they have made good use of powers available to them under ‘Section 59’ of the Police Reform Act 2002. This allows a police officer to seize a vehicle if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe that the driver has driven in an anti-social manner. A warning must be given in the first instance, so seizure can be made only in effect on a second offence. Once a vehicle has been seized, a recovery fee of £160 is charged, and consideration will be given to prosecution.

We read of crackdowns in other forces against street racing, involving Neighbourhood Policing combining with other officers including traffic police, injunctions banning illegal gatherings, seizing of cars and threat of imprisonment.

A focus for the Forum in 2022 is to continue to gather information on how this behaviour is to be tackled in our area.

After concerns raised over late-night racing in Chesham at a Forum meeting in 2020, Forum Chair Andy Garnett escalated the matter to then LPA Commander Supt Amy Clements. A crucial part of her advice was for residents to REPORT incidents, with as much specificity and detail as possible. By building up logs, we are much more likely to be able to justify attention and resource, including from Roads Policing. So please, we urge residents always to REPORT, REPORT, REPORT.

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