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Three-thousand strong cruiser meet called off
3:30pm Wednesday 11th September 2013 in News
POLICE working behind the scenes to tackle West Thurrock’s boy-racer blight prevented a 3,000-strong meet, just days before announcing plans to put EIGHTY boy racers before the courts.
The owner of Facebook page Fight For Your Right To Cruise tried to organise a meeting at Lakeside retail park on Saturday, August 31, but opted to go to Beckton after police stepped in.
The organisers were challenged by police, working as part of Operation Wagtail, on their health and safety plans, which is thought to have put off cruisers’ hopes of holding the event at the retail park.
After halting the meeting in its tracks, police announced they are hauling 80 boy racers before Basildon Magistrates’ Court on September 30.
The unprecedented move means a courtroom has had to be set aside for the whole day.
The 80 are said to have been performing dangerous stunts and driving at high speeds during a police crackdown in April and May.
Sgt Simon Willsher, who leads Operation Wagtail for Essex Police, said: "We will take all necessary measures to protect the local community and ensure they can enjoy their homes in peace.
“Anyone considering driving in a dangerous or anti-social manner should be aware we will use a range of tactics and robust enforcement and they too could find themselves at court having to explain their actions to a magistrate.”
Thurrock District Commander, Chief Insp Ben Hodder, said: “We’ve had real success in stopping people congregating.
“By speaking to the organisers of these events, they’re being deterred from holding meets at Lakeside.
“We asked the organiser for health and safety plans and in the end just under 3,000 cars went to Beckton.”
Police continue to work with the retail park, who have employed more security staff and made better use of car park barriers.
Chief Insp. Hodder added: “We have had a lot less complaints over the last month and very few cruisers have been around and the retail parks are really helping out.”
Cllr Angie Gaywood, Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for public protection, said: “It is clear considerable effort has gone into reducing this issue and while I don’t think we have definitely solved the whole problem, we are now seeing real success.
“These include the temporary concrete blockade at the Lakeside dumbell roundabout, CCTV cameras at key locations, new measures to close Lakeside retail car parks at key times with added security and new signage and posters to support the dispersal order.”
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