Police to get powers to crush boyracer activities
Monday, 02 February 2009

Police and the Government are to crack down on boyracers after a violent incident in Christchurch on Friday night.

The Government is looking at law changes to create a new boyracing related offence and may even give police powers to crush the cars of repeat offenders.

Prime Minister John Key this morning said law changes could be implemented within six months.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad said his officers would be taking "emphatic action" against boyracers.

Mr Broad, Police Minister Judith Collins and Transport Minister Steven Joyce met this morning to talk about options to deal with the problem which has been highlighted by Friday's events.

Christchurch police Sergeant Nigel Armstrong was shot at by an air rifle and surrounded by boyracers.

Mr Armstrong said the drivers were listening to police scanners and were waiting for him.

They blocked his retreat before throwing bottles, then fired an air rifle.

Ms Collins is visiting Christchurch this afternoon to see the problem first hand.

She said the car crushing idea was discussed at this morning's meeting.

"That's certainly something we would be looking at for repeat offenders who just do not get the message, and for those people they need to understand we are not going to put up with that kind of behaviour," Ms Collins said.

Ms Collins said measures had to be strong.

"We've got some people who think they are above the law and they don't actually care about the public, they don't care about the police, they actually only care about one thing and that's their car."

Mr Joyce said the Government had a number of possible law changes to consider.

"Both in transport and justice. Car crushing is one but there are a number of other ones that we can look into."

Police want a cease and desist order, like that used in Scotland. It would require a new offence of vehicle disorder using a vehicle in a way that alarmed or distressed the public to be established.

A notice would be issued to offenders and if they breached it within two years they could be jailed for three months or fined $2000, be disqualified for driving for six months, and have their vehicle impounded for up to 28 days.

Any subsequent offences would see an increased disqualification period or even a court-ordered confiscation of their vehicle.

Other changes police wanted included; licence suspension for failure to pay fines; increased demerit point penalties for speeding, and serious penalties for failure to stop for police.

Mr Broad said the cease and desist order was attractive because it was a targeted approach.

Any ban of groups gathering together could raise human rights issues.

"One of the risks here is we bring in a rule that has a wider application than we would want. This (the orders) would seem to be an answer to that potential criticism."

The boyracer problem is worst in South Auckland and Christchurch. Mr Broad said Counties Manukau and Canterbury police were not failing to enforce present law.

"What seems to be the case though is this is being treated as a game by those involved. It would seem that some of the sanctions available are not adequate."

Police can impound cars and in some serious cases sell them however a loophole in the law allows the offender to sell the car first and pocket the proceeds.

This morning Mr Key said it would take four to six weeks to draft legislation which could pass within six months.

He also suggested other measures such as selling cars to pay fines and setting up a dedicated group in Christchurch to tackle the problem, similar to what was being done in South Auckland.

Mr Broad and the politicians were "outraged" by the new "truly criminal" development of targeting a police officer.

Mr Broad said boyracer behaviour was thuggery and Ms Collins said they were hoons and thugs.

Police in Christchurch were taking action with direct enforcement, efforts to prevent gatherings and high visibility and Mr Broad was talking to all district commanders.

A police operation on Saturday night aimed to crack down on boy racer activity.

About 50 police staff were involved in the operation, including the district commander and Mr Armstrong.

While tickets were issued relating to noisy exhausts, breaches of licence restrictions, no warrants, no registrations, the "hard-core" group was nowhere to be seen.

The Friday night incident was sparked when officers were called because boy racers were doing burnouts.

- NZPA

From here.