‘200 street racers turned up outside my West Bromwich flat and the sound was deafening’

Black Country resident Jake Russell hits out at ‘deafening’ noise and dangers of street racers around his neighbourhood
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It’s just over 12 months since two teenage ‘car meet’ spectators were killed in Oldbury.

Ben Corfield, aged 19, and Liberty Charris, aged 16, both lost their lives after a Nissan Skyline ploughed into a crowd at an event advertised on Snapchat.

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Yet street racing continues to be an issue across Birmingham and the Black Country with people living in West Bromwich speaking out about the latest issues and sharing footage with the Express & Star.

Shocking scenes show cars racing around Kenrick Park estate in West Bromwich - where a start line for drag racing and car cruising has been drawn up.

The noise is deafening and the dangers lethal, but this has not stopped organisers to continue with the illegal ‘car meets’ with roaring, turbo-charged vehicles reaching 100mph speeds on the 40mph road.

"The sound is horrific.I live six floors up behind triple glazing and I can hear them,” said Jake Russell, a security expert, who has lived in the area for ten years. 

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“First I hear them parking up on the industrial estate, then to the pub car park. And when I hear spectators turning up I know we are in for a long night. 

"There are sometimes up to 200 cars and people, the other night they were holding up ambulances because they were organising the start of a drag race.

"They are very social media savvy, these guys. When I am phoning 999, I know after 10pm there just is not the police resources, but they know it as well. They don't care if they eventually see blue lights. I have taken photos but have been threatened."

Jake Russell looking down on the street race track from his Kenrick estate flat in West BromwichJake Russell looking down on the street race track from his Kenrick estate flat in West Bromwich
Jake Russell looking down on the street race track from his Kenrick estate flat in West Bromwich

Circuits can vary but in the Black Country the racing usually takes in Kenrick Way, All Saints Way, in West Bromwich Manor Way in Halesowen, then through Cradley Heath and Dudley via the Birmingham New Road and onwards to Wolverhampton.

What about the injunction granted to councils to ban street racing in Birmingham and the Black Country?

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Birmingham City Council and Black Country councils, led by Wolverhampton, were granted a High Court order to ban street cruising last year - which includes a jail threat for drivers, riders and passengers.

Last week the High Court extended it again and it will be ruled on permanently in January next year. However, though the injunction gives police extra powers to stop racers and even seize cars they have not got extra resources to enforce the injunction.

Jake said: "The injunction is great, in one way, as the only thing that seems to work is when they get nicked. When you take away their wheels. This really annoys them."

Street racers gather in West BromwichStreet racers gather in West Bromwich
Street racers gather in West Bromwich

Two drivers were caught on Kenrick Way after clocking 80mph and 90mph in May, they pleaded guilty to contempt of court after breaking the injunction. One was sentenced to 23 days imprisonment, which was suspended for 12 months.

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The other, who was seen racing at 90mph in the same 40mph zone on the same night, was given 28 days imprisonment, also suspended for 12 months. If they break the injunction again they could have their assets seized.

Councillor Syeda Khatun, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Protection, said: “The two successful court cases show that we take breaches of the injunction very seriously and that those involved in street racing are at risk of going to prison.

“Our priority is the safety of people and tackling the anti-social behaviour that is linked to street racing. People in West Bromwich have been really concerned about street racing on Kenrick Way – I am pleased that two people have been brought to justice for this dangerous activity and it serves as a warning to others, too.”

What else is being done to help residents in West Bromwich who are plagued by street racers in their neighbourhood?

West Bromwich Central Councillor Tirath Singh Dhatt vowed to help Jake and fellow residents after hearing the noise of the racers whilst knocking doors on the estate.

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He said: "If people in the tower blocks can hear it six floors up then on the ground it will be half a mile. Knocking doors we found so many people who were being really affected by this, from pensioners to young people. We met some brothers who were doing all the right things, like reporting the racing on the app, but if it is the same night it is too late.

"These car meets are like an event. There can be 200 cars some nights. Authorities have to work together. The council, police, the PCC, the courts - it needs to be a joined-up approach. There needs to be intelligence-gathering, there needs to be prosecutions and the fear of prosecutions and seizures of cars.

But is all of this enough? What is the Police and Crime Commissioner doing about street racing in West Bromwich?

During a round table meeting with councillors, police officers, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, Shadow Police Minister Alex Foster and West Bromwich Parliamentary candidate Sarah Coombes, Jake confronted the PCC.

He said: "I have emailed the Police and Crime Commissioner at least five times this year and nothing, I just got a generic car theft email, which was really disappointing. But I know there is not the resources."

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West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster agrees there needs to be more resources to implement the injunction.

He said: "It comes down to resources, each of the seven local authorities have a separate agreement with the police, and we want to join this up so there is just one agreement. I have been campaigning to keep the money which motorists pay in fixed penalties fines in the West Midlands, the money currently goes to Westminster. That would be £1.7m we could invest in law enforcement, locally."

Cars jockey for position as they begin a "drag race" in West BromwichCars jockey for position as they begin a "drag race" in West Bromwich
Cars jockey for position as they begin a "drag race" in West Bromwich

Sergeant Paul Bishop has been tasked with ensuring Sandwell's roads are not being used as race tracks and its fields are free of off-roading motorcyclists and uninsured scooter riders.

He believes progress is slowly being made against the car cruisers in West Bromwich. He said: "This is specialist work, which requires skilled workers, we have automated stingers now. We have put a camera near the island as that is where cars slow down, however, we cannot just put a speed camera anywhere.

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"There needs to be certain criteria. Data has to be collected, and the trouble with Kenrick Way is for the most part motorists drive sensibly. So the 80mph and 90mph speeds in the data will be from a certain time and be equalled out by the rest of the day."

Jake is astounded at the illegal drivers' knowledge of the road he calls home. "A few years ago they resurfaced the road, the racers left it a few weeks until the tarmac had settled perfectly and then returned, they had been given their perfect race track - you could not make it up."