Police take action to put brakes on ‘boy racers’

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Banbridge Police have warned so-called ‘boy racers’ who are causing a nuisance around the town that “bad driving standards will not be tolerated”.

The PSNI issued the warning in response to complaints from members of the public about young drivers congregating in car parks at nights, revving their engines and playing loud music, and others using public roads for racing and ‘drifting’ their cars, putting themselves and other road users in serious danger.

While the problem has been going on in the town for a number of years, police confirmed this week that they are working with other agencies in a bid to put the brakes on irresponsible drivers. And they have warned that anyone caught driving dangerously “will be dealt with harshly”.

Responding to “numerous reports” of anti-social behaviour and speeding at several locations around the town, a PSNI Banbridge spokesperson posted on Facebook: “We are very aware of the issues and are in the process of contacting all relevant agencies to assist us in putting a plan together to end this.

“It’s not all about issuing tickets and prosecutions. It’s about engagement and problem solving too. I can assure you it is being taken seriously.”

Appealing to the public for help putting a stop to inconsiderate and illegal driving, a PSNI spokesperson added: “The vast majority of incidents are going unreported, or are being reported late.

“If you witness any dangerous driving, such as drivers drifting, performing doughnuts, or racing, please call us immediately. If you believe they are driving in such a manner that life could be at risk, call 999.

“If you see anti-social behaviour going on, such as excessive revving or deliberately loud music in a built up area, call 101.

“If we don’t know about these incidents at the time, that limits what we can do about it.

“When you do report, be sure to give us as much information as possible - the make, model and colour of the vehicle and of course the registration, any description of the driver, where they are and what direction they are heading in. There is vehicle nuisance legislation which can be used on persistent offenders, but we need to know about it in order to take action.”

Responding to news of the crackdown, some car enthusiasts took to Facebook to defend those in the ‘car scene’, claiming that a small minority are getting everyone a bad name by causing a nuisance and driving illegally. However, police have stressed that it’s “not about targeting young drivers just for having a nice car”.

“This is about saving lives by ensuring our roads are safer, and helping make our town a more enjoyable place for residents,” the spokesperson said.

Stressing that police are working in partnership with other relevant bodies to address the problem of “anti-social driving”, Inspector Kieran Quinn said: “Concerns around the driving behaviour of young people is not unique to Banbridge, however, it is an issue we take seriously.

“As well as causing a nuisance to other road users and local residents, those involved are creating a danger for themselves. Those who engage in these activities may regard them as ‘fun’, but this is not shared by the people who have to endure this type of selfish behaviour.

“Driving on public roads brings with it certain responsibilities for drivers and passengers; for their families and friends and to the community as a whole. These responsibilities should not be taken lightly. It is important to point out that drivers should expect to receive a fine or worse, prosecution through the courts, should they be detected engaging in careless or dangerous driving, or modifying their vehicle illegally.

“Our message to ‘boy racers’, as they are called locally, is bad driving standards will not be tolerated. They need to realise if they are taken to court, their licences may be at risk and the loss of a licence could impact on their entire futures. We want these drivers to realise the dangers they are causing to themselves and other road users. The last thing police want is to be knocking on doors of relatives following a fatal crash caused by someone showing off in a car.”

DUP Cllr Paul Greenfield said he too has received a number of complaints about the long-running ‘boy racer’ problem. “I welcome this latest focus from the PSNI and trust it will go some way to stopping this growing trend which is dangerous and an annoyance to residents,” he said.