Following on from the Wapping residents meeting with Tower Hamlets police a few weeks back our local Safer Neighbourhood Team has, via the police OWL system, sent LW and other residents a very useful guide to how to use a Section 59 Warning which can mean the boy racers will get their cars seized and maybe even crushed.
Nothing beats a good car crushing! Just think of the fun we can all have when, through providing Section 59 statements to the SNT, the boy racers cars get turned into this:
The text below explains what a Section 59 Warning is, how it works, and what evidence you can provide, if you witnessed the incident yourself.
And remember people you must be willing to attend court to support your witness statement if required.
What is a Section 59 Warning?
Section 59 of the Police Reform Act covers occasions on which a vehicle is being used in a way that:
(a) commits an offence of either careless/inconsiderate driving, or an offence of off road driving
(b) has caused, is causing, or is likely to cause alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public.
Under the Act, “vehicle” means any mechanically propelled vehicle. For example, this includes motorbikes, but not pedal cycles.
If a vehicle has been driving in this way, a warning marker that shows up on police systems can be placed on the vehicle.
If the vehicle has 2 warnings placed on it within a 12 month period, police can seize the vehicle.
Officers often give these out on scene when they witness anti-social driving.
However, we can also issue them retrospectively, on the basis of CCTV, or a witness statement from a third party.
A witness statement is a signed police statement (see example at the end of this document), not simply an email or a verbal account.
If you witness a vehicle driving in the manner above, and you are willing to give a signed statement regarding this matter, we can place a warning marker on the vehicle, and potentially seize it.
How can I help the police place a warning on and / or seize a vehicle?
- You must have the full registration plate of the vehicle.
- Your statement must describe the vehicle driving in a way that has caused or would be likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress to you or to others. It is not enough for the vehicle to be speeding. There must be another element of anti-social driving present.
- The vehicle must be moving. We cannot use Section 59 to tackle anti-social behaviour in or around parked vehicles.
- Your statement must be detailed enough for us to justify seizing the vehicle.
- If you give a statement, you must go to court as a witness if it is challenged.
- It is an offence to give a false statement to the police.
How do I give a statement?
If you have witnessed an incident of anti-social driving, and you are willing to make a statement, there are three steps we need you to take.
Make a full note of all the details of the incident as soon as it is practical, while it is still fresh in your memory. If you called police at the time, note down the reference number as well.
Consult the information above to make sure that what you have witnessed is covered by Section 59 of the Police Reform Act.
Contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Team, stating what you have seen and that you are willing to making a statement so that a Section 59 marker can be placed on the vehicle.
Remember that if you do this, you must be prepared to go to court as a witness if necessary.
You must also do this promptly, ideally within 48 hours of witnessing the incident. This is because it may take a few days for your Safer Neighbourhood Team to make an appointment to take a statement from you, depending on their shift pattern and other tasks.
It is important that you can still recall the incident clearly when you give your statement.
Attend the police station by appointment to give a statement. See the attached statement for an example of how much detail you will be expected to give.
Your statement explained
This is an example of the kind of statement which we can use to place a Section 59 warning marker on a vehicle.
It has been annotated to explain why we need certain details from you.
Ideally, we would build up a picture of how anti-social driving affects your life: how frequently you experience it, and the impact it has on you.
Section 59 warnings are an incredibly valuable tool for police to tackle anti-social driving.
They have been proven to reduce anti-social driving by deterring careless and nuisance drivers.
This is because they represent a substantial inconvenience to the owner of the vehicle. The owner has no choice about when the vehicle is seized – police will seize it whenever it is practical for them to do so.
The owner must bring proof of ownership to the car pound, and they are charged a substantial fee for storing their car. This fee increases the longer they leave it in the pound.
If the car is not picked up after 7 days, the police have the right to either auction the car, or crush it.
Many thanks to our SNT for providing us with this information. Let’s hope we can make our neighbourhood a safer place and give the local car crushers some extra business.