Operation Hercules targeting car cruising in Solihull over the bank holiday weekend was voted a resounding success.
West Midlands Police were out in force – including helicopter support – on Saturday, Sunday and Monday following scores of complaints from residents that the illegal gatherings were making their lives a misery from 10pm until the early hours.
Hundreds of vehicle registration numbers were recorded, one car was seized and those attending can expect their vehicle to be served a Section 59 notice – or if they have already got one their vehicle could be seized.
Section 59 of the Police Reform Act was introduced to provide a more effective means of dealing with vehicles being used anti-socially.
The organised cruises saw hundreds of vehicles converging on Solihull where a High Court injunction forbids such gatherings. Drivers raced each other on the Stratford Road, performed donuts and other stunts, putting their own and innocent road users’ safety at risk.
Solihull Borough Councillor James Butler spent his evenings on the streets with the officers from Operation Hercules and said they had been “red hot”.
“The injunction was put in place about seven years ago and it did initially curb the meets, but things have built up again over the last couple of months,” he said.
“Complaints range from the noise the vehicles make – many have been tinkered with to make a ridiculous sound – to dangerous driving.
“The police response in Solihull has been red hot. They jumped on it, threw everything at their disposal into it, and after three consecutive nights hardly any cars turned up on Tuesday”.
A Section 59 notice is served on a vehicle as a warning. If the vehicle is spotted joining in further anti-social activity it can be seized. The S59 applies to the vehicle, not the driver, and stays with the vehicle no matter who owns it or who is driving.
One vehicle was seized by police over the weekend and they have warned that hundreds more can expect a knock on their door with an S59 or to find their vehicle is being seized because an S59 has been issued in the past.
“It’s a very effective tool,” said Cllr Butler.
“Not least because the vehicle is then marked and will show up as of interest to the police when the owner tries to sell it and an HPI check is carried out.
“And when police seize vehicles under S59 often other offences come to light so it is a great deterrent.
Cllr Butler met on Wednesday to discuss how to ensure car cruising is stopped permanently.
“We want to eliminate it, not move it on to cause misery elsewhere,” he said.
Image courtesy of West Midlands Police