Destroy road racers’ cars, say honorary police officers

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MOTORISTS caught using the Island’s roads as a racetrack should have the ‘dangerous weapons’ they are driving taken away and destroyed, according to several members of the honorary police.

A number of officers have called for greater punishments for speeders in order to deter others from breaking the law and putting road users at risk.

Their comments came after car enthusiast Steven Caldeira Pacheco (27) was jailed for six months for aiding and abetting dangerous driving.

During the course of their investigation, the States police found footage on the Islander’s phone showing cars speeding at more than 80mph on country lanes in two western parishes.

Pacheco was also fined £570 and banned from driving for two years.

Steven Caldeira Pacheco

St John Centenier Andy Bisson said that sentences, such as the one handed to Pacheco, would help stop people from speeding but that further measures should also be considered.

‘There has to be a sharp and clear message sent out,’ he said. ‘In a lot of European countries, you are fined heavily and can go to jail.

‘You also hear stories of cars being taken away, scrapped and destroyed. I think we should follow suit and give out greater punishment for racers.’

He added: ‘Those who speed excessively tend to have a love for cars and by scrapping them you’re hitting them where it hurts. This sends out a powerful message and would make drivers think twice.’

Mr Bisson said his team were often alerted to small numbers of drivers who ‘excessively speed’ in the parish late at night.

‘Speed limits don’t matter to these types of drivers. This is an Islandwide issue which is constantly going on. The majority of drivers are law-abiding, but you always get a small group who constantly abuse the road,’ he said.

The problem of late-night speeding has persisted despite a high-profile campaign – named Operation Canvas – which saw both the States and honorary police crack down on antisocial drivers in 2020.

St Martin Centenier Alan Phillips said that owning a driving licence was ‘a privilege, not a right’.

‘I would like to see anyone caught racing have their car taken from them and crushed publicly. You are taking a deadly weapon away from a dangerous individual,’ he said.

Mr Phillips added that the problem was hard to tackle as officers could not be ‘everywhere at once’.

He added: ‘We get calls from a number of parishioners who get woken up by people racing on the road. If you do get woken up, try to write down the time and the number of cars that went past. That way officers can help the next day.’

St Brelade Chef de Police Michel Bougeard said that confiscating and destroying cars ‘would set a precedent to others’.

‘Those speeding at 70mph or 80mph in Jersey are often driving their pride and joy. The last thing they want is to have their car, which they spend thousands on, destroyed,’ he said, adding: ‘We often find ourselves penalising those who are not paying attention and have not realised they are still going 30mph, when passing into a 20mph zone. I would much rather we put our energy into cracking down on those who purposely abuse the roads.’

St Ouen Centenier Paul Battrick said the problem of drivers racing in the parish had been ‘going on for a number of years’.

‘It is still a problem. It comes and goes in phases and I would expect them to be out more often now that it is getting warmer. It is really hard to eradicate because they are constantly finding ways to evade the police. They will often send a decoy vehicle out in front to identify where the police are,’ he said.

He went on to explain that officers were working with the States police to tackle the issue. This, he said, included parish patrols running throughout the night.

‘It happens all over the parish but some of the most popular hotspots for racing are the Five Mile Road, the outer areas by Les Landes and Hydrangea Avenue,’ Mr Battrick added.

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