Street racers are being warned they could lose their car, their job or even their liberty if they take part in a car cruise in the Black Country.
An injunction, introduced in February 2015, will remain in place following a High Court hearing on Thursday, April 27. It bans people from taking part in a car cruise anywhere within the four Black Country boroughs – Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton – or from promoting, organising or publicising such an event.
His Honour Judge McKenna sitting at the high court evaluating the injunction concluded that it had proven “successful” in reducing instances of car cruising. And the authorities are warning they won't hesitate to take action against anyone who breaches it.
The injunction defines car cruising as the act of drivers meeting on the public highway on an organised or impromptu basis to race or show off in their cars. Anyone who breaches it risks being in contempt of court, for which they could face up to two years in prison and a fine.
Police can also take action against individuals for traffic offences including driving without due care and attention, driving without insurance – no insurance policy covers illegal street racing – or driving an unroadworthy vehicle.
Already 13 people have been convicted of contempt of court since the injunction came into force and further prosecutions are pending. There has also been a significant reduction in car cruising activity across the Black Country.
Councillor Paul Sweet, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Well-being, said: "We welcome the judge’s stance on this and his comments on the success of the injunction. The four Black Country councils and West Midlands Police remain committed to the injunction as an important tool to cut anti-social behaviour and make the public safer.
“Car cruising, has been eliminated in certain areas altogether and deters would-be car cruisers. We will remain vigilant and will not hesitate to take action against those suspected of participating in car cruises in the Black Country or indeed those who seek to organise them.
Superintendent Dean Hatton of West Midlands Police Roads Policing added: "The injunction enables us, together with our partners, to continue to tackle those individuals who flout the laws of the road and pose a danger for innocent members of the public.
"Anyone who is convicted of contempt of court by breaching the injunction could face jail or be hit with a large fine. At the same time, by committing traffic offences they could be banned from driving or have their car seized."
The injunction was granted in December 2014 and was sought to tackle the menace of car cruising, which was blighting the lives of residents and having a detrimental impact on businesses throughout the region. And it has had an instant impact, with police and councils reporting a significant reduction in car cruising across the Black Country, and the problem being eliminated altogether in many areas.
The injunction prohibits a number of activities and consequences typically associated with car cruising, including speeding, racing or driving in convoy, performing stunts, obstructing the highway, excessive noise, and causing the risk of harm to people or property.
The four Black Country councils and West Midlands Police secured the ground-breaking injunction after receiving hundreds of complaints about car cruising from residents and businesses over a number of years.
They ranged from complaints about dangerous driving, speeding and vehicles and spectators obstructing highways or residential or business properties, to excessive noise, littering, verbal abuse and intimidation.