2005-11-13

Intolerance: Motorbikes & Cars at Risk from Inconsiderate Drivers

Car owners who beep their horn too often or rev their engines excessively could now have their vehicles seized under new police powers to tackle anti-social drivers. Motorists will be forced to pay 150_GBP to recover their vehicles if they are impounded by officers who have deemed them to have caused fear or alarm in the community. Failure to pay the levy will result in the vehicle being scrapped. A motorist has to commit the offence twice, including being issued with a formal warning, before the vehicle is seized. The announcement comes as the first official warning in the Lothians was issued to a teenage driver this week. The 19-year-old from Haddington, East Lothian, now faces having his car seized after he was reported for continually sounding his horn in the town's High Street. Alarmed pedestrians alerted police, who will confiscate the vehicle if he commits the same offence within the next 12 months. Inspector Mr.Douglas Kirkham, of 'Lothian and Borders Police' traffic branch, said:
'This piece of legislation gives the police strong powers to be able to take positive action to assist communities, where up until now our ability to deal effectively with nuisance drivers and their vehicles, whether on or off road, has been limited. 'It will make a considerable difference to communities and residents across the force area, whose lives have been blighted by careless and inconsiderate use of vehicles and motorcycles, both on and off the roads.'
Inspector Mr.Dennis Hunter, 'Lothian and Borders Police' anti-social behaviour co-ordinator for the force's safer communities department, said the system for carrying out seizures was now in place. He added:
'In this particularly complex area, we have had to look at storage and at how we record warnings given under the scheme.'
Ms.Sheila Gilmore, the Edinburgh councillor in charge of tackling anti-social behaviour in the city, said:
'I am very pleased that the police are now going to use these powers, particularly for seizing motorbikes, which is an area where most of the problems of anti-social drivers occur. 'Existing remedies have not been effective and the loss of someone's bike is a pretty effective sanction.'
The announcement was made yesterday during a summit in Edinburgh on how to deal with nuisance neighbours. Police officers from all the country's forces attended to share knowledge on implementing measures like ASBOs, closure orders and dispersal zones. Assistant Chief Constable Mr.Tom Halpin, of 'Lothian and Borders Police', which hosted the anti-social behaviour seminar, insisted the 'low-level priority' complaints must be dealt with effectively. He said:
'People tend to laugh at some of the nuisance calls and minor complaints we receive from the public but it is no laughing matter for the old woman who is living in the bottom flat and whose life is being made hell by the anti-social element in the neighbourhood. 'Police work is not all about solving murders and responding to emergency incidents, we must deal with the low-level priority calls as well. 'This is why we must work together to share best practices to see how best we can implement the measures now available to us.'
However, Mr.Halpin admitted the anti-social legislation police are now using is only a short-term fix and the forces must keep on pressing if they want to rid our communities of the public nuisances:
'In a way, the real hard work starts after we have successfully obtained a closure order or dispersal zone because the problem doesn't go away. 'They only give us breathing space; we have to ensure that when these measures are lifted, the situation does not return.'
A total of 210 ASBOS were taken out last year, up 42 per cent on the previous 12 months and the highest number since they were introduced in 1999. The figure was announced last month by The Deputy Justice Minister Mr.Hugh Henry, on the eve of the first anniversary of the initial measures from the Anti-social Behaviour (Scotland) Act coming into force. That extended the use of ASBOS to children under the age of 16 and Mr.Henry said that an increasing number of local councils were now prepared to use them to deal with youngsters. 'Antisocial drivers could have vehicles scrapped', Angie Brown, The Scotsman, 2005-11-12

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