Councils in the Black Country will return to the High Court on Wednesday 27 January to seek the renewal of a ground-breaking injunction banning car cruising in the region for a further three years. They will request an extension of the existing injunction, as well as a variation to it so that it applies not only to people organising and participating in a car cruise, but to spectators as well.
The current injunction is due to expire next month, and the City of Wolverhampton Council, Walsall Council, Sandwell Council, Dudley Council and West Midlands Police are working together to secure its extension until 2024. Their application on 27 January will also ask the High Court to vary the injunction so that those actively spectating at a car cruise are in future deemed to be participating in the event and therefore in breach of the injunction.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "The car cruising injunction has been incredibly effective since its introduction in February 2015, and we are naturally keen to ensure that it remains in effect for another three years. It has significantly reduced instances of car cruising across the region, though the problem still persists in some areas and so it's important that the injunction stays in place in order to crack down on the issue as and when it occurs.
"We also want to extend the scope of the injunction so that it covers spectators for the first time. As well as encouraging car cruisers to show off in the first place, we've also seen multiple cases of spectators getting injured at car cruises around the country. And they are not only putting themselves at risk, they are putting members of the public in harm’s way by standing in the road or blocking pavements. Spectators are covered by a similar car cruising injunction in force in Birmingham and Solihull, and so it makes perfect sense to vary the terms of our injunction and bring the Black Country injunction in line with that of our neighbours."
The existing injunction defines car cruising as:
· Two or more motor vehicles (including motorbikes) between the hours of 3pm and 7am being on a highway or in a publicly accessible place within the Black Country at which any such vehicle or occupant of a vehicle performs any of the prohibited activities listed below which causes, or is capable of causing, any of the prohibited consequences set out below. Participating in car cruising means being the driver of, or being carried in (or on), a motor vehicle (including motorbikes) in circumstances in which the above applies.
The prohibited activities referred to above are:
· Speeding; driving in convoy; racing; performing stunts; sounding horns or playing music as to cause a significant public nuisance; using foul or abusive language; using threatening, intimidating behaviour towards another person; causing obstruction on a public highway, whether moving or stationary.
The prohibited consequences referred to above are:
· Excessive noise; danger or risk of injury to road users, including pedestrians; damage or significant risk of damage to property; significant risk of harm; significant public nuisance; significant annoyance to the public.
More than 50 individuals have been subject to committal proceedings for breaching the injunction since 2015. One defendant received an immediate custodial sentence of three months; over a dozen were given suspended sentences of up to six months while others received fines of up to £2,000 and were ordered to pay costs. More than a dozen respondents have given undertakings to the court.
In addition, over 100 warning letters have been issued, and in all but one instance no future offending behaviour has been reported. Meanwhile, police continue to undertake regular car cruise operations, supported by technology including drones which has enabled the authorities to secure high quality video evidence of gatherings.