The Havering Daily has run a special investigation into the ongoing anti social behaviour caused by car ‘drifters’ along Ferry Lane in Rainham.
Locals have been complaining for years about the ongoing noise that the drifters cause to people trying to sleep at night in the nearby area.
In this investigation we have spoken to residents, companies who work near Ferry Lane, the Police, the Council and the drifters themselves about these issues.
On Friday and Saturday night cars gather along Ferry Lane to use the roundabout to ‘drift’. Many cars and spectators gather at the side of the road to watch vehicles drift their way around the roundabout.
As entertaining as this maybe for spectators, this can also be extremely dangerous and a nuisance for people living and working in the area.
Drifting originated from Japan and is very popular there and in America, cars often require modification to drift and many of these professional drivers are highly skilled.
When done on a public road like this however, it can often be very dangerous and result in many injuries.
Mark White is the owner of a security company that runs the London Riverside Bid Industrial site in Rainham. His staff have had to put up with the ongoing anti social behaviour problems these drifters have caused. He told the Havering Daily: “We have had vehicles smashed, we’ve had stones thrown at us, my security guards have been intimidated and even racially abused by these people.
“This happens most weekends and for us it has been a total nightmare. When they arrive they block the road off, they won’t let you pass. They intimidate my staff, they cause damage to the property around here. The posts are smashed, they leave rubbish all over the ground, we even find hundreds of Nitrous Oxide canisters on the floor.
“We keep asking the council for help but so far nothing is being done about it. Now I believe the Council are going to install anti skid paint to stop them drifting. It really is a total joke. Until someone get’s killed, then no one wants to do anything about it.
“There are often 300 plus spectators watching and they park their cars doubled up so people cannot get passed. It really is terrible.”
This issue has been going on for years now and so far has not been resolved. Friday’s and Saturday’s cars gather together to have a go at drifting. One drifter told the Havering Daily: “We would like somewhere to go where we don’t have to disturb people. We have been looking to buy land to get us off the public road but to find land that is tarmacked away from people is not easy. Most land is now being used for flat building and everywhere is built up.
“Many of us would like to be professional drifters and spend a lot of money doing our cars up and enjoy being able to drift but we don’t know where to go anymore.”
For businesses in the area, these drifters are a total nightmare. Human Resources Manager for Tilda Rice, Jill Waller told the Havering Daily: “The intimidation these drifters cause our employees is a nightmare. We are a company that works 24/7 so we have cleaning staff and delivery drivers coming in at all hours.
“When the drifters arrive, they block off the road so our drivers have to go on the other side of the road to get to work. They can’t see past the cars parked up so they don’t know what they are facing. They ask the spectators for help and get a barrage of abuse. It is extremely intimidating for our staff. They won’t let employees get to work.
“Now our lorry drivers are refusing to deliver on Friday and Saturday evening following an incident where a driver had his windscreen smashed. The mess they leave behind is awful. They smash fences down, trees had planted along the area, they were all trampled on. They turn the water hydrant on and flood the road. Then the cars spin out of control and there is debris everywhere. It really is terrible.”
Councillor Viddy Persaud, Havering’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Safety, said:
“We’re aware of the issues of people using the Coldharbour Lane/Ferry Lane roundabout for illegal driving activities.
“After looking at a number of options to tackle the problem, we are considering installing a high friction anti-skid surface around the roundabout.
“A road safety audit has been carried out with no issues raised. The same surface has also been successful in acting as a deterrent for this kind of activity, in other areas.
“The safety of our residents is always our priority. We won’t tolerate anti-social behaviour and will always look to take the strongest action possible against those who put our residents at risk.”
Inspector Rob McElroy from Havering Neighbourhood Policing Teams told the Havering Daily:
“The Met Police have run a number of dedicated operations over a period of years and most recently in December 2020 to combat this ongoing issue.
“Police Officers from the East Area Roads Policing Unit often supported by the East Area Response Teams and the Havering Safer Neighbourhood Teams, deploy to the locality every weekend and deal with those we find committing a range of offences. Particularly, seeing officers responding to issues with drivers and vehicles blocking roads in the locality and using their vehicles in an anti- social manner.
“Reassuringly, it is often the case that the very presence of Police Officers prevents these meetings from getting started in the first place and the ‘drifters’ never arrive.
“Unfortunately, due to the random nature in which these meetings take place and the time of night they occur, we cannot always commit to having a number of police officers deployed to an industrial estate in the small hours, in the hope a meeting takes place. Especially when other priorities such as serious youth violence, knife crime, domestic abuse, burglary and robbery take precedence.
“The Met Police have and will continue to work closely with the local council, the Business Improvement District and other partners to resolve the ongoing issue with ‘drifting, dangerous driving and associated anti-social behaviour’ in addition to other crime based offences that are identified from our engagements and collaborations with partners and community representatives at these meetings.
“For the future, police will continue to work with local council and partners, in the development and implementation of plans to redesign the road and remove the ability for ‘drifting’, specifically at and around the roundabout, and immediate locality.
“East Area Command are fully supportive of this review process and keen to support this endeavour by our partners to make the locality a safer place for all road users alike”