ARARAT - Northern Grampians Highway Patrol police are imploring the public to come forward with information on local hoons following a rise in the incidence of bad driver behaviour and police pursuits in the region.
Traffic boss for the Stawell and Ararat region Sergeant Rod Davis said over the past few weeks he has seen an increase in poor driver behaviour.
Sgt Davis said the behaviour is evidenced by the numerous black marks on the road and at intersections around both Ararat and Stawell and even included one driver doing a 'wheelie' in front of him while he was collecting the mail from the Ararat Post office at about 7.20pm one night.
"You've got restaurants across the road, people wandering around, and these people have absolutely no regard," he said.
While increasing in frequency, it is still a minority of the population who are exhibiting poor driving behaviour, although they are not the typical 18-25 year olds that most people associate with hoon behaviour. They are people of all ages.
"It appears it is a bit of cultural thing for the young people, whether they are showing off for friends or doing a video for putting on You Tube," he said.
"It's happening here (You Tube clips) - we're seeing it, and it's a bit of an investigative tool for us, because they are silly enough to do it."
Hoon behaviour often results in police pursuits and Sgt Davis highlighted an incident in Ballarat recently where there was a pursuit and injury as a result.
"The vehicle being pursued crashed into another vehicle with innocent people in it and they suffered quite serious injuries as a result," he said.
Sgt Davis said police hoped to make people aware of the consequences of this type of action.
"Not only does it put passengers in their vehicles at risk but also puts members of the public at risk and also members of the police force," he said.
"These people are making a conscious decision not to pull over and are fleeing from police for whatever reason.
"There are further examples of drivers in Ararat where we've decided that we want to stop that car and see who is driving it, or they've done something foolish in front of police, and all of a sudden they decide 'we're out of here'. There's been a number of times where police here have decided not to get in involved simply because of the ridiculous actions of the driver trying to avoid apprehension.
"Enough's enough, we are asking for help from the community to dob these people in via Crime Stoppers or by ringing the Ararat or Stawell police and reporting these people.
"People know who these people are, they are locals, they are not out-of-towners doing this stuff.
"They will be known to somebody and it's about time the community stands up and lets us know who they are and that that type of behaviour won't be tolerated."
Sgt Davis said police would do their utmost in identifying drivers and said they would face the full weight of the law.
Recent legislation has seen a new indictable offence of 'Evade Police' introduced, which now carries a jail term.
"These people risk not only losing their licence but run the real risk of having their car impounded and for subsequent offenders police will be making application for their cars to be forfeited and destroyed," he said.
Not only are Highway Patrol officers seeing a rise in hoon behaviour, but also uniform police patrolling at night are witnessing bad driver behaviour.
"What really concerns me is the actions of these people putting the community at risk of serious injury or death, but also placing police officers at risk who are trying to apprehend these people, and that's simply not good enough and won't be tolerated in any way, shape or form," Sgt Davis said.
"I'm imploring the community to be involved and step up - it's happening in front of people's houses and in their streets. People who are seeing these things happening in front of them need to tell us about it and then when they do they can be guaranteed we will be investigating it as far as we can and holding these people accountable."
Contact Ararat Police on 5355 1500 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.