Islanders and Honorary Police Officers alike have hit out at high speed ‘racers’, who were driving at dangerous speeds and making noise in the early hours of the morning this weekend.
Having had their sleep disturbed by what some termed "wannabe NASCAR" drivers, many islanders took to Facebook to air their frustrations at both the disturbance and the potential danger to other people.
One comment on the States of Jersey Police Facebook page remarked how “people are really fed up of the ‘boy racers’ waking everyone up in the middle of the night, not the average Jo doing 5mph over the speed limit in daytime.”
Another recalled that on Daisy Hill that morning “six very noisy, powerful cars raced down the hill together at 12:35… probably in excess of 60 mph.
“It’s a very regular occurrence but probably timed randomly to avoid being caught. This is a very serious concern... apart from selfishly waking everyone up and putting people in danger, on wet roads the chances of a serious accident are high.”
Pictured: Centenier Honeycombe warned that drivers "are going to kill themselves or are going to kill somebody" if their behaviour continues.
Similarly, on a group page for residents of St. Ouen, a number of complainants voiced their concerns about loud driving over the weekend in the parish, with comparisons even being drawn to the sound of NASCAR racers.
Talking to Express, St. Ouen Chef de Police, Centenier Richard Honeycombe, confirmed this weekend’s reports, explaining it had been happening “island-wide” up until 05:00 in the morning, with activity focused in the St. Ouen area from around 02:30 to 03:45 on Sunday.
He added that the problem had been ongoing for two years, with parish officers frequently submitting speed measures over the limit, having seen speeds of up to 143mph.
Pictured: Early morning speeding drivers were reported around the St Ouen area by multiple witnesses on social media last weekend.
Though many of the around 10 to 12 frequent culprits are known to authorities, the Centenier added, any kind of prosecution was difficult without speed camera evidence.
“We need to address this head-on,” he said of the urgency to act, “because it’s just getting ridiculous. Friday and Saturday were just a nonsense.”
He cited Operation Canvas, a clampdown on driving offences launched in July, as an effective deterrent when the racers “got worse” during the first lockdown, but said that the focus displayed at the beginning of its launch was needed again now to really clamp down.
On the topic of last weekend, St. Martin Chef de Police, Centenier Gordon Jones, similarly said that they had been notified of three drivers starting in St Catherine at 22:30 on Saturday, but that they had left the area before they could catch them.
“They’re certainly not as organised as the people during the lockdown, but even so, it becomes a problem," he clarified.
"This is the first we’ve had in a long time, so we are putting some measures in place in that area to try and resolve it quickly.”
Both officers’ words echo comments made in the States Assembly last September, when Constable Richard Buchanan said that there was a “cunning and devious” network of drivers, who were sending scouts out ahead to make sure there were no witnesses – something Centenier Honeycombe says is still happening.
Indeed, this level of organisation by the drivers makes it difficult for honoraries working fixed hours to capture the culprits committing the crime, as St Peter Chef de Police, Centenier Joao Camara explained.
“The issue we have is they don’t go out the same time the night, they change their modus operandi,” he said. “We go on patrol every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but if they are out at unconventional times, it’s really hard to actually apprehend.”
Pictured: The use of mobile speeding cameras was voted in by the States last September, but it has yet to be implemented
This was reiterated by Trinity Chef de Police, Centenier Steve Gallichan, who noted that it “seems this last 12 months has been increasingly worse [for racers]. We’re trying to eradicate it, we’re doing it speed checks in those areas.”
However, he said that the use of speed guns were limited in these cases, and that “after 10 minutes of standing there, you know full well all the cars have dropped down to the right speed as everyone’s been notified on social media or have been flashed by other cars.” He also noted how some of racers they had encountered had switches to turn off lights around their license plates when in areas they could be seen.
He suggested that the only effective way they would be able to prosecute would to be through capturing speed photography of them, something which they are currently unable to do.
Though mobile speed cameras were voted in by States Members last year, there have been no announcements about plans to introduce them into parishes yet.
Summing up his concerns, he noted a particular incident before Christmas in the parish that left a mark on him, which saw two people left with “life changing injuries”, adding starkly that “people are going to get injured and killed if it carries on.”
Pictured: Centenier Gallichan warned that people would be killed if 'racers' and speeding continued as they have been doing.
And there could be another crackdown on the horizon following the increased weekend activity.
Centenier Honeycombe said that he would be bringing up the topic in a committee meeting, which took place last night between officers and the police.
“It needs a real joined up approach by the States Police, and all the Honorary police force, all coming together to deal with it,” he said.
He added: “It’s a very difficult subject to try and stop, but I think that after the weekend we’ve definitely moved the foot to stamp on it - from St. Ouen’s point of view, that’s certainly going to happen.”
A spokesperson for States of Jersey Police said on the subject that they “task officers at all times to go out and check” on speeding.
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