Belfast Telegraph

Boy and girl racers in Enniskillen are making lives a misery, police told

Meeting: Supt Clive Beatty
Meeting: Supt Clive Beatty

By Tanya Fowles

Police have been urged to clamp down on young people using an Enniskillen car park as a rally course.

One resident from the Quay Lane area of the town asked members of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) for help to quell the long-standing problem.

Locals say it is having a detrimental impact on the lives of those living beside it.

The matter was raised at a PCSP meeting this week, which heard how the area has been unofficially renamed 'cruisers' car park'.

Despite attempts to address the situation, it continues, making residents' lives unbearable.

There has been input from the Department for Infrastructure, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the PSNI, but the problem remains.

Superintendent Clive Beatty explained that education programmes have been held, aiming to address the attitudes of drivers towards safety and avoiding getting a criminal record. While engagement was good, the problem persists.

Some members expressed empathy for the young people, contending they have nowhere else to go and it was unfair to penalise or criminalise them.

But others took a more robust approach, deeming the continuous disruption of residents' lives an infringement of their human rights.

Addressing members, the representing resident said he was horrified by the level of noise, the speed of drivers, the continuousness of loud driving, sleep disruption and the fact that nothing is working to stop or even reduce the problem.

He also described an unpleasant experience with a PSNI call handler when he rang in to report cars speeding.

"I was concerned for the safety of all residents and drivers. When I said the cars were flying, she asked me, 'Have you a speedometer in your house?'. I didn't like that remark," he said.

Supt Beatty was annoyed by this response and apologised on behalf of the PSNI for the "totally inappropriate" conduct of the call handler.

He said: "That was poor. The call handler is supposed to focus on your needs, not his or her opinions or attitudes."

In respect of driving matters, Supt Beatty assured residents that they "have our full support".

He added: "However, it isn't just a police problem. I guarantee that as soon as we arrive on the scene, the speed goes down.

"We are trying to address this not only with education but enforcement of law, but we can't do it on our own.

"To be honest, I think it's going to be a while before we find a solution to your (residents') satisfaction."

Supt Beatty explained that during a Driver Vehicle Agency operation in October, 12 cars were seized, of which 11 were found to be not roadworthy due to modifications.

Owners were given time to have their vehicles rectified and retested, with all 11 subsequently passing.

Alarmingly, it was then claimed that after driving away from retesting in these instances, vehicles are swiftly returned to their modified state and then go back out on the roads.

In response to an inquiry on the catchment area of those involved, members were told the majority are "local to Fermanagh".

PCSP manager Carol Follis pointed out stereotypes did not apply. "This is not just confined to males. Young women are as involved. There has been anti-social driving by females," she said.

Members inquired on the criminal aspects and if the law was strong enough for such "outrageous behaviour".

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