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Police begin crackdown on Christchurch boy racers

Sunday 1 Feb 2009 6:19 p.m.

Christchurch police have launched an all-out assault against the city's boy racer community after an officer was attacked on Friday night.

Hundreds of youths were stopped by police riot squads last night in response to the incident and police say it is the start of an all-out war on illegal street racing.

Last night dozens of police officers went from car-to-car, as police searched cars and individuals - many of who were drunk and noisy.

While there were some arrests, cars seized and infringement notices issued, the vast majority of drivers had not broken any laws.

But following the attack on police by boy racers on Friday night, and a security guard last night, police say this is just the start of a zero-tolerance blitz.

"People have had an absolute gutsful of the behaviour of illegal street racers," says Superintendent Dave Cliff. "The behaviour is criminal, it's upsetting people, it's intimidating the law-abiding people of Christchurch and frankly it needs to stop."

Many Christchurch roads bear the tell-tale signs of boy racers. The Christchurch City Council has tried to address the problem, but admits current measures are toothless.

"Stringent measures are in place regarding parking and assembly, but the problem only shifts somewhere else," says Acting Christchurch Mayor Norm Withers.

The officer attacked on Friday night says it is not just about changing the law, most parents have no idea how their children are spending their weekends.

"I'd like to think they'd be disgusted if they saw what had happened and what is happening on the streets of Christchurch at the moment," says Sergeant Nigel Armstrong.

However it seems that those causing on the streets could not care less.

But the boy racer problem is not just isolated to Christchurch. Seven years ago it was also a major problem for South Auckland.

But with the establishment of a squad charged solely with targeting weekend street racing, there has been a big reduction in both the illegal street racing and complaints.

"We issue a lot of tickets and have absolutely zero-tolerance," says Sergeant Mark Flemming.

Tough new laws introduced in 2003 also helped the situation in South Auckland. The Act gave police the power to impound vehicles for 28 days for offences such as racing, burnouts, excessive speed and pouring diesel on the road.

But in Christchurch at least, the boy racers remain undeterred.

Superintendent Cliff reckons introducing compulsory third party insurance and the complete ban of modifications would go a long way to reclaim the roads.

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