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Police wage war on boy racers

PUBLISHED: 16:39 20 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

POLICE have pledged to crackdown on boy racers after an Evening Star investigation revealed lives may be in danger. Every night young drivers continue to dice with death, as they turn Ipswich streets in to a racetrack.

POLICE today pledged a crackdown on boy racers – after an Evening Star investigation revealed lives may be in danger.

Every night young drivers continue to dice with death, as they turn the towns streets in to a racetrack.

And now criminal damage and verbal abuse has been added to the list of allegations that businesses have against the youngsters who line up their cars and revel in racing high speed heats past Cardinal Park, and along Russell Road and West End Road.

The Star reported the dangerous craze at the start of the month, when Ross Howard, a senior instructor at Fitness First, warned it was "only a matter of time before some one gets killed as they race around.

At 10pm last night, several cars were gathered in the Fitness First car park, with their lights on and filled with youngsters.

Two cars were cruising round past the Post Office at 10-20 miles per hour, then speeding off as others approached.

Chief Inspector Alan Pawsey today promised that there would be officers at the scene every single night from tonight, and said the problem was being focused on by his team who are out to stop offenders in their tracks

He will also be studying photographs taken by The Star, in a bid to prosecute more offenders.

Chf Insp Pawsey said: "We have been working on this for the past month and a half. We are in the process of seeking to prosecute 22 people, and in the last few days our colleagues in the traffic department have issued ten tickets for excessive speeding.

"We are also having a purge on minor traffic offences and issuing fixed penalty tickets for things like lights out of order and we are not showing any mercy down there.

"We have been working with the borough council, and talking to the Post Office where one or two staff have been harassed. We have tried to get Fitness First and Staples to shut their gates to disrupt the activities of the offenders, but the fitness club closes at 11pm so they are already in the car park by that time.

"We are also looking to prosecute for public order offences.

"Even last night when the weather was so bad, there were still a few about. We also do patrols in the area for Operation Nightsafe, and there will be a patrol there every single night from now on.

"Every police officer is aware there is a problem there, and we are focusing on that problem at the moment.

"We are concerned, and we are putting a lot of effort in. We want to ensure people are safe when the pubs and clubs close each night, but we also want to make sure people do not get run over either.

"It's not against the law to drive a motor vehicle late at night, but people must do so safely and within the constraints of the law. We will sort out those who break the law."

Mr Howard's colleague, reception and fitness instructor Ed Walker said today: "It's still the same as before. I have phoned the police from reception several times, and they say they are busy and have to prioritise, but this is high priority because there's going to be an accident."

He said litter dropped by the boy racers blew around the front of the club, and the neighbouring Staples store too.

He added: "Some of our members have been shouted at and we have a lot of female members who use the club to train at night. One walked through and complained to us that she'd been shouted at and called names."

Andrew Kingsley, sales manager at Staples, said he still regularly sees five to ten cars gathering in the store's car park and speeding past at night.

He said: "It's still happening. There are five to ten cars a night and they are still leaving rubbish in our car park. Three quarters of our signs have been damaged by them playing football and basketball too.

"The entrance gate to the car park has also been broken.

"We want the police to crack down on this and sort it out, basically.

"It would not have been an issue if they were just using the car park and not causing any danger or damage. But the problems have escalated as time has gone on, and it's getting worse."

Nils Hansen business manager at car bodywork repairers Scuffs said boy racers were part of a general problem of young people using his premises at night.

He said: "We have a zero tolerance when we are open but we have a lot of expensive cars here and the kids come into the car park with complete disregard for that.

"We have skateboarders, BMX riders, people coming from the nightclubs to settle their fights, and occasionally boy racers.

"We have to clear litter up every morning. I know this is something which happens in town centres, but it is a very low priority for the police.

"I phone them when I'm here by myself and there are 10-15 youngsters outside and they say they'll come as soon as they can. I once called the police and waited for 45 minutes then decided to leave. As I drove away I saw a patrol car coming down the road."

He added there was plenty of evidence available for prosecutions as skateboarders sold films of their antics on the firm's property, in a local shop.

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