POLICE officers this week began Operation Overdue which is aimed at clamping down on drivers who use Bromsgrove’s roads as a race track.
We reported last week how – in response to complaints from residents – the force was planning a project to stop ‘boy racers’ who sped around the town in modified cars.
The Standard’s Tristan Harris went along on Wednesday (September 18) to see exactly what officers were doing in a bid to put an end to the practice which residents say is making their lives a misery.
The briefing at Bromsgrove Police Station heard how there had been reports of young drivers meeting at certain places throughout the district to take part in racing and other nuisance driving, such as revving their engines, handbrake turns and performing doughnuts (spinning the cars around).
There were a number of ‘hotspots’ earmarked, which included Windsor Street Car Park, Saxon Business Park, Sherwood Road, and Morrisons car park.
Reports had also been received of it taking place in Lickey End, Blackwell and Dodford.
During the evening, cars seen to be driving erratically or irresponsibly were pulled over by officers who directed them to the car park at Bromsgrove Police Station. There, drivers and vehicles were checked against the national database to make sure they had the correct insurance, MoT and road tax.
Vehicle examiners then went around the cars with a fine tooth comb to see what modifications had been made – these could range from a go faster stripe and alloy wheels to enhanced exhausts, spoilers and altered air filters – changes traditionally introduced to make vehicles go faster.
A total of 11 officers and several police vehicles were used in Wednesday’s operation.
Drivers who have modified their cars need to have told their insurance companies about what they have changed and deviations from the factory model without notifying the firms can result in policies being invalid.
As well as drivers risking being prosecution over having no insurance, it can also lead to more trouble and cost if that driver is involved in a crash.
Bromsgrove Police have also been giving out Section 59 orders – they are handed to those driving inconsiderately or carelessly or driving in an area other than a road. They last for 12 months and, once presented, if that vehicle is stopped again for similar offences, it can be seized. On average, drivers who have their vehicles confiscated have to pay around £200 to get their prize possessions back.
On Wednesday, there were no reports of nuisance drivers after 9pm, one was handed a Section 59 for his driving.
Other drivers were reported for several offences including speeding, having no MoT test certificate, number plate offences, using a mobile phone whilst driving, and having no insurance due to undeclared modifications.
The last vehicle checked on the night had two defective tyres, a defective windscreen, an insecure battery which was leaking acid and was in a dangerous condition due to jagged rusted edges likely to injure pedestrians.
Officers also dealt with two crashes.
Sgt Billy Keys said: “I’m satisfied that the message has been passed amongst the groups that the police mean business.
“We will continue to police the issue proportionately but robustly.”
Supt Kevin Purcell added: “This is a good example of you said we did, whilst night after night we deal with motorists who commit crimes and motoring offences.
“This was an operation that will continue over several nights at undisclosed times.
“I am pleased that such an impact was made.
Coun Chris Bloore added he would personally like to thank the local policing team for listening and acting on concerns made by him and other residents.
“We now have an action plan to deal with the problem and I’m sure every resident in Bromsgrove will be glad to know this issue is being tackled head on by the police.”
Vehicle examiner Bob Beals was based on the car park of Bromsgrove Police Station.
Vehicle examiners checked under the bonnet.