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Mayor encouraged by better boy racer behaviour

MAYOR’S OFFICE
AUCKLAND CITY

Moving Auckland Forward

Hon John Banks QSO
Mayor of Auckland City

15 July 2004

Mayor encouraged by better boy racer behaviour

Former Police Minister, Auckland City Mayor Hon John Banks, believes problems associated with boy racers have been substantially cleaned up over the past three years. He credits his council’s zero tolerance attitude, stronger enforcement, and police now being able to hit offending boy racers where it hurts.

In the past 14 months police have used new legislation to impound 82 cars in the Auckland Police District alone. The figure was part of a police report to council’s law and order committee today.

The Land Transport (Street and Illegal Drag Racing) Amendment Act, which came into effect on 2 May 2003, gives police the power to impound illegal street racers’ vehicles for 28 days. Mr Banks, the Auckland Mayoral Forum, and the law and order committee pushed for the legislation.

“There are two types of boy racers - the law-abiding majority of young car enthusiasts who can best be described as petrol heads… and then there are boy racers who engage in illegal and dangerous activities.”

Mr Banks said illegal street racing has been damaging lives and costing councils too much for too long. Auckland City has led the charge successfully eliminating a lot of the problems around boy racers.

“Before I was Mayor downtown Auckland City under the cover of night was not pleasant. Drunken louts were hurling bottles from one side of Queen Street to the other and boy racers were hooning around, pouring diesel all over the pace and then burning it up. This contemporary exhibitionism also extended to our suburban streets.

“A zero tolerance on disorderly behaviour adopted by my council has done much to remove the antics of drunks and hoons off our streets. Downtown Auckland, in particular, is a much safer and more pleasant place. Although, we continue to work hard with police to tighten the screws on all the usual ‘dead-of-night’ problems associated with big cities.

“An annoying issue that still exists is the parading antics of petrol heads, jamming Queen Street on Friday and Saturday nights. These petrol heads, while a nuisance, generally go about their business within the broad parameters confines of the law.”

Mr Banks said the police have been very supportive of his council’s zero tolerance endeavours, strengthening their enforcement - helped by frontline police returning to more favourable numbers for the Auckland District.

“Soon after becoming Mayor, problems associated with boy racers were ‘neutralised’ in Auckland City. Thanks to strong leadership and decisive police action, hoons disappeared from inner city hot spots such as Quay Street with many of them, unfortunately for Manukau, heading south.

“Back then the police were largely restricted to issuing boy racers with infringement notices or parading them before the courts. These actions did not really intimidate them and never will.

“I wanted to see police able authorise from the roadside the towing away of these precious offending machines - that I always believed would be a salutary lesson.”

“Being able to now hit these street larrikins where it hurts has helped us substantially with our clamp-down. Boy racers don’t pay fines and don’t worry about gaining driving offences, but knowing their cars can be impounded has seen their behaviour improve all of over the city, region and country – and the police will tell you as such,” said Mr Banks.

Also presented to the law and order committee today was an update on the CitySafe Framework Implementation Plan, established in 2002. The report details a comprehensive list of safety initiatives and outlines significant benefits being realised.

One of the success stories has been Auckland City’s zero tolerance graffiti programme. Since its implementation graffiti has been removed from 58,000 sites in Auckland City and 260 offenders have been apprehended. Three hundred volunteers against graffiti are involved in the strategy and 28 primary schools are part of a graffiti education programme.

“We are attacking law and order issues in this city on a broad front. We are making some steady progress and the community is getting right in behind us. Rust never sleeps but nor do we,” said Mr Banks.

Ends

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