We must continue to work together to tackle cruisers
Street racing and noise nuisance has caused frustration and concern in the West Thurrock and Lakeside area for a number of years. District Commander Chief Inspector Leigh Norris and his team, supported by specialist officers, have conducted significant proactive policing work to tackle the cruiser problem, and continue to work closely with key partners.
A major policing initiative named Wagtail has been operational for many years. Overnight on January 31 – February 1, 2015, local MP Jackie Doyle-Price joined the Essex Police team to see the nature of the problems and the police response first hand. Subsequently, the MP has been subject to abusive and threatening comments on social media.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Tackling issues of street racing and the noise associated with cruisers, which causes such anger and irritation for local residents, must continue to involve strong partnership work between Essex Police, Thurrock council, the Highways Agency, the local business community and many other organisations.
“I have been out with officers myself, and recognise the irritation and frustration other motorists and local people feel at the behaviour of some members of the cruiser community. I applaud the efforts of all MPs to work with Essex Police and explore issues which cause concern to their communities.
“It is entirely right that Jackie Doyle-Price is raising this issue, and encouraging both police and partner agencies to continue to work robustly and professionally to try to resolve the problems and keep our roads safe. It is completely unacceptable that as a result the MP has been subjected to vile and disgusting abuse and threats on social media. I will follow the progress of any Essex Police investigation closely, and I am keen to learn if our laws are strong enough to address such abusive behaviour against not just elected representatives, but all members of our communities.”
Anyone who witnesses illegal or dangerous behaviour by cruisers should report the incident to police as soon as it has happened, ideally with the index of the vehicles involved either via telephone number 101 or 999 if the caller feels there is a crime in progress or public safety is at immediate risk.
Activity in 2014 included:
- The creation of a new Dispersal Order for the area utilising new 2014 legislation;
- The installation of new CCTV cameras for the road network in this area including on West Thurrock Way and the A126 Dumbbell Roundabout.
- Road calming (speed reduction) measures have been installed on the A126 (reduction of 70 mph to 50mph) through liaison with Thurrock Council Highways Department;
- Increased use of current and new speed detection devices funded through the Thurrock Community Safety Partnership;
- Policing the Clearway around the A126 area;
- Communication of police and partner agency activities to residents of Chafford Hundred at a PCC public meeting;
- Increased utilisation of the Essex Police Special Constabulary to assist with Operation Wagtail deployments;
- Early interaction with the Highways Agency around design and speed changes being considered on the A282 (Dartford to Thurrock crossing) and A13 between the Wennington Interchange and A1089 (Tilbury);
- Further joined up prosecution days at special courts for offences linked to cruising. This has ensured Magistrates are well informed about the issues and risks around cruising;
- Continued meetings involving all partners (their logos are evidenced on this document) chaired by Essex Police, ensuring actions are progressed and our approach is joined up;
- Interaction with the Planning Department at Thurrock Council to ensure any future development in the Lakeside Basin area is designed to reduce cruiser issues;
- Increased patrols and operations focusing on the key times and much greater attention by the increased Local Policing Team response shifts;
- Thurrock Council joined the Essex Casualty Reduction Board in 2014 and this has helped facilitate the assistance of the Essex Police Casualty Reduction Section, their skills, experience and equipment to assist with Cruiser related issues, amongst other membership benefits including enhanced enforcement and evidence gathering opportunities.
Planned activity for 2015 includes:
- Consideration for speed detection cameras for the West Thurrock area to assist tackling this issue through close liaison with appropriate Thurrock Council departments;
- The consideration of an educational video to be created to highlight the issues and potential dangers around cruises and spectating.
- Further enforcement and educational related deployments and operations to ensure road safety is maintained;
- Additional staff are being trained in the use of speed detection equipment;
- The consideration of a Public Spaces Protection Order through close liaison with Thurrock Council;
- Average Speed Cameras (50mph) are due to be installed along the A13 in close proximity to West Thurrock.