My home village is generally a peaceful place. However, every now and then, the peace is shattered by one of those daft little scooters being thrashed to within an inch of its life on the road outside. With a following wind and a good squirt of throttle, the rider (always a learner) can reach speeds of 50mph or more. Never mind the fact that there may be children trying to cross the road, or cars doors opening, or a load of loose gravel from a recent resurfacing operation. These young men’s need for speed trumps anything else. They even manage on occasions to carry female passengers (an offence), usually not wearing helmets (another offence and more important – plain idiocy).
So, raise a cheer for Section 59 of the Police Reform Act (2002), which gives police the basis for dealing with the anti-social use of vehicles. A constable, it says, has the power to seize a motor vehicle that is being driven in a manner contrary to Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1998, or is being driven elsewhere than on a road, if it is causing or likely to cause alarm or distress to members of the public.
Just a few days ago, we discreetly observed just such a seizure taking place. A local ‘youth’, already well known to the authorities, had made it his evening task to ride as fast as he could from one end of the road to the other – and back again, and again and again ad nauseam… except that calls from at least six residents led to a police patrol waiting for him after his sixth or seventh pass. Oh dear. Having already received a warning for similar behaviour, he could now do nothing but curse as officers relieved him of his beloved two-wheel. Recovery would cost him £150, plus a storage fee of £20. Oh, and a possible prosecution, too.
Peace descended on the village again, and word got round among the other young riders, that their particular brand of on-street motorsport would not be tolerated. Guess what… since then, we have enjoyed evening after evening of peace and quiet.
The moral of this tale is – quite simply – don’t just put up with nuisance drivers and riders if they’re making your life a misery. Tackling antisocial behaviour is a key policing task, and those Section 59 powers can bring effective results quickly.