Record number of drug drivers detected following national police campaign

Record numbers of drivers have failed drug tests and one in ten have failed breathalyser tests, despite a month-long national police campaign to deter motorists from driving while impaired.

One in ten drivers failed breathalyser tests during a month-long campaign to deter drink and drug driving
One in ten drivers failed breathalyser tests during a month-long campaign to deter drink and drug driving
The annual summer awareness campaign against drink and drug driving, which took place in June, was launched by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) earlier this year. 

The press release, issued earlier in the summer, stated: "Forces will participate in the campaign with their own locally driven operations, including utilising local knowledge of hotspots for an intelligence-led approach and increased checks and patrols on the roads." 

However, the results of the annual campaign, released last week, reveal that drivers caught under the influence of drugs were at a record high. Out of 2,022 drivers tested for drugs, 1,084 failed.

"Results from drug tests showed the highest proportion of positive tests since recording began in December 2015 (53.6 per cent)," according to the NPCC.

In terms of drink driving, some 38,807 vehicles were stopped and 35,382 breath tests conducted, 10 per cent of which were over the legal limit, inconclusive, or refused by the driver. The proportion is more than double the 4.5 per cent recorded in 2013’s summer campaign.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, the NPCC’s roads policing lead, commented: "Every police force in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland took part in this latest campaign using targeted, local knowledge to detect drink or drug driving offences and help prosecute thousands of offenders. We are committed to enforcing the law to educate people about the penalties they face and the serious threat to life presented by this irresponsible and dangerous behaviour."

He added: "While we continue to see benefits of new drug driving laws and testing kits resulting in more detections, the scale of this problem remains a real concern for police. Thousands of people still attempt to drive after drinking or taking drugs – you are making a selfish decision that puts your own life and the lives of others at risk. Our message is the same all year round – don’t do it."

The NPCC issued the news of the latest figures without offering any national spokespeople for interview. 
A comms officer stated: "Unfortunately we do not have availability for media interviews."

Nicola Growcott, NPCC comms manager, told PRWeek: "The NPCC plays a role in coordinating the activity and sharing the national results but the majority of communications activity happens locally."

She added: "Therefore there is no central police budget for the campaign and police forces determine their audiences, channels and key messages based on their local picture."

The results of the campaign "reinforce the need for continued enforcement of drink and drug driving," according to Ruth Purdie, general secretary of TISPOL – the European Road Police Network.

She added: "We need to work together with governments and the public to ensure that such activity is seen as not acceptable and the risks to all who use the roads is very high from such offending."

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