Getting up-to-speed on illegal motor racing

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22 July 2010

Illegal motor racing is an emerging phenomenon in Europe with many criminal repercussions: road accidents, illegal gambling, theft of vehicles, “carjacking”, insurance fraud, public disorder, alcohol and drug abuse to name a few. Due to its public security nature, the problem needs to be tackled by highly trained and specialised police personnel.

CEPOL course “Tackling Illegal Motor Racing” was held in Lisbon, Portugal from 28 – 30 June 2010. With assistance from the French National Gendarmerie and the Irish Garda Sióchána, the Portuguese School of the National Republican Guard hosted and organised this event.

Aimed at updating participants’ knowledge about illegal motor racing, the course’s ambitious programme covered three main topics:

  1. Diagnosis of motor racing in the Member States represented at the course;
  2. Research of existing scientific and technical knowledge about the phenomenon;
  3. Controlling the motor racing phenomenon in the EU, formulating strategic, operational and coordination measures from a police perspective.

The course attracted 18 participants from 13 Member States and 11 lecturers, four of whom came from Member States police training facilities and seven from universities, national laboratories, road safety agencies, Eurojust and the European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL).

Diagnostic exercises conducted during the course showed that illegal motor racing is more wide-spread in some Member States and less frequent in others. Conclusions reached during the course’s introductory phase showed that it is important for police officers in the Member States were the phenomenon is still rare, to be aware of how it is handled by colleagues in countries where occurrences are more frequent.

Looking into research and technical knowledge already available to Member State police forces highlighted the existence of a wealth of information. This was demonstrated in several presentations that were given, including:

  • The racing phenomenon and organisation - Pedro Silva, Portuguese Road Safety National Authority;
  • Psychological profile of the people involved – António Pitadas, Portuguese Road Transport Mobility Institute;
  • The vehicles involved and illegal modifications – João Dias, Technical University of Lisbon;
  • Characteristics of the most used areas – João Cardoso, Portuguese Civil Engineer National Laboratory;
  • Monitoring websites with artificial intelligence – Carlos Pimentel, Portuguese National Republican Guard;
  • Social and criminal problems associated with motor racing - Patrice Ganzin, French Gendarmerie.

The course’s final exercise saw the participants split into working groups to discuss strategic and coordination measures for future monitoring of illegal motor racing. Results showed that a centralised European database that could allow officers throughout Member States to access up-to-date information and perform data comparisons, would be a great advantage. This conclusion was mirrored by the experts from Eurojust and TISPOL who respectively could use such a database for studying crime and road safety issues.

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