THE police are urging State and non-governmental entities to lend more support in preventing the nuisance of windscreen wipers around the Corporate Area, which has forced some motorists to avoid Three Miles, the Trafalgar/Hope Road intersection and other areas in the capital city where they operate.
The windscreen wipers, among them children, have been accused of bullying motorists to have their windscreen wiped in exchange for money. Some have been said to be abusive to motorists who object.
Deputy superintendent of police in charge of administration for the Traffic and Highway Division, Gary McKenzie, said the police have been trying to deal with the general complaints about boys and young men at various intersections, who insist on providing a service that many motorists do not want.
He pointed out that there was a mixture of people at the various intersections — those seeking to earn a living, drug addicts, the homeless, and minors.
“… We try to get other agencies involved. For example, we have taken some of the juveniles out there to the Family Court [as] this is not just an enforcement issue, which makes the issue a complex problem. We have sought to use various methodologies to try and solve the problem,” he said.
DSP McKenzie said the police would continue to do its part, but called on all the relevant agencies to come on board to assist the effort.
“A lot of them (wipers) need psychological counselling and some need help from social workers. There are groups with the various expertise that can help. The police recognise that the entire citizenry sees this as a problem for all of us,” he said.
The traffic cop noted that there is no criminal charge for the youngsters engaged in the activity, and because of this, when they are removed from the locations they return shortly after, as police can only charge them with traffic offences.
“Having taken them to court, they return to the location because the fines are not a deterrent. Most of the people taken to court have returned, having paid a fine of $500 to $2,000, and in some instances those who say they can’t pay they are just given a warning by the court. There is no specific charge for that offence [so] we generally prosecute them under the main road act, in terms of obstructing (traffic), and so on,” DSP McKenzie explained.
One motorist said that she avoids the Portia Simpson Miller Square in Three Miles. “I can’t deal with them; all hours of the day and night they are out there and so aggressive, some of them,” the woman said.
Another motorist said there have been occasions on which he has come close to getting involved in altercations with the windscreen wipers. “I keep my lass (cutlass) near. Some a dem a thief,” he said.
DSP McKenzie has, however, encouraged motorists to exercise some level of patience, although the situation can be irritating. “One of the things that can be done if you recognise that person is aggressive towards you is to take a photo of the person and bring it to the police and we will deal with it. They may feel that they can run away and nothing will come of it, but if the day, time and place are noted by the particular motorists, with any other aids, such as photographs, the police can act,” he said.
Just a year ago the police removed windscreen wipers from the Three Miles area after they were accused of damaging vehicles and being a threat to motorists. A few years before that, there was some degree of public protest by people who defended the individuals’ right to seek a living, as the police carried out similar operations at Half-Way-Tree and Matilda’s Corner in St Andrew, arresting wipers and others for breaches of the Town and Communities Act.
DSP McKenzie also pointed to another dangerous practice that has emerged — people moving in and out of traffic on busy thoroughfares to sell items. “We have been trying to communicate with them that this is a dangerous thing… which is not safe,” he said.