Police blockade Croydon retail park to put the brakes on late night racing

Night racers were shut down by police who blockaded a retail park near hundreds of homes last night.

Over 60 officers and dozens of police vehicles stopped cars entering or leaving the Croydon Valley Park retail centre following months of noise complaints from nearby residents.

Vehicles were checked for illegal modifications such as loud exhausts, and 21 cars were seized and taken away on police low loaders.

Sixteen warnings were also issued for driving without due care or attention, according to Broad Green Police.

Anyone issued with more than one of these warnings under the 2002 Police Reform Act within 12 months can have their car impounded.

The operation involved police from across London and was the culmination of ‘months’ of intelligence gathering.

Hundreds of spectators and drivers filled the area, which includes a 1123 space car park surrounded by several shops including B&Q and IKEA.

Around 11pm, a disturbance involving the crowd and some police officers led to a crowd swarming around them, with the force then making a human barrier around cars they were checking. 

Police at Croydon Valley park form human barrier to check cars of racers
Police formed a human barrier between the crowds and cars – Credit: Matthew Kayanja

However, most of the night saw little direct confrontation.

Before the shut-down, the meet involved drivers showing off cars, including BMWs and Audis, drag races and drifting, and was advertised extensively on social media.

There was also a shrine set up to a murdered 18-year-old, Shane Jerome, from Thornton Heath, South London, who was killed earlier this year taking part in a Brixton bike meet.

Drivers said they had come from as far as Brighton and Dartford to join the event.

But with nothing to do, some visitors rode around in shopping trolleys, before these too were confiscated by police.

Instagram advert for Valley Park car racing
An Instagram story that advertised last night’s meeting

The raid comes after residents became increasingly fed up with the loud noise created by the meets occurring multiple times a week.

Local resident Chrissie Hutton said: “It’s very very draining, every week you dread it.”

She continued that many could not park their cars during the night, as residential spaces were filled by those who came to spectate, take part, or quickly escape from the police.

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said her child has autism and a particular sensitivity to loud noise.

She continued: “When your child is falling asleep in the classroom because he couldn’t sleep at night, and teachers are coming saying your child is sleeping in school, what is happening, you have to tell them we have no choice. 

“…You have no idea the amount of distress, from the youngest to the oldest, we suffer.”

In April, police carried out a similar raid on the Valley Park car meet, but the failure to end the events, which are believed to have occurred for decades, mean residents are considering other options.

Unable to leave with their cars, participants congregated in the car park – Credit: Matthew Kayanja

Many mentioned the possibility of forming a safe, legal place for car cruises, with potential venues including the nearby Crystal Palace circuit.

One resident said a racer had previously told her he was a nurse, and that the meets were his let out after taking care of people every day. 

Another said they were applying for a High Court injunction to prevent racers gathering in the area. They said police action had been difficult, given showing off cars at cruises is not illegal, only dangerous driving.

He said: “[Police] turn up and they’re all behaving like angels, because they can see the police coming and they stop the spinning, they stop the donuts.”

The Metropolitan Police’s Broad Green division tweeted: “Last night in #ValleyRetailPark after months of gathering intelligence saw over 60 officers from all different teams come together to police the illegal car cruise.

“In the events leading up to this operation and working in #Partnership with various outside agencies and Roads and Transport Policing Team, over 200 Section 59 Police Reform Act 2002 warnings have been issues since July 2021 in this area. #WorkingHard

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