Case Study: Christmas drink-driving offences in Derbyshire fall following innovative campaign

A Christmas drink-driving campaign that saw children voice the transcript of a real-life conversation between emergency services helped reduce offences in Derbyshire over the festive period.

Derbyshire Constabulary's innovative Christmas drink-drive campaign helped reduce offences
Derbyshire Constabulary's innovative Christmas drink-drive campaign helped reduce offences
The decision by Derbyshire Constabulary to use young children to communicate the dangers of drink-driving over the recent Christmas period appears to have paid off. 

Not only has the new film, voiced by children, made a big impact on social media but it may have contributed to a fall in drivers caught under the influence of drink or drugs.

The police force took a decision to try a different approach for its annual Christmas drink-drive campaign in 2017, having largely relied on press releases in previous years.

In contrast, a short film was created by Jonny Birkin, media and public relations officer at Derbyshire police, as the centrepiece of the latest drink-drive campaign. 

The film is a disturbing juxtaposition of innocence versus criminal behaviour, through the use of young children’s voices and visual scenes of toys around a Christmas tree to communicate the horror of road accidents where people have been injured or killed due to drivers being under the influence of drink or drugs.

The short two-minute film ends with the messages: "Give them a Christmas to remember for the right reasons. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t take drugs and drive."

The voiceover is by two boys aged four and six, and an eight-year-old girl, who chronicle the impact of a serious crash caused by a drink-driver, in which several people are seriously injured and one killed. Children’s toys are used to visually tell the story.

The dialogue is based on real-life radio exchanges between members of the emergency services responding to road crashes.

At one point, one of the little boys repeatedly pleads "keep breathing, stay with me" to one of those injured in the crash - accompanied by the sound of a heart monitor having gone flat in the background.

Speaking when the campaign was launched in December, Sergeant Steve Hughes, from the force’s roads policing unit, said: "The video is intended to make people sit up and take notice, so that the very clear safety message sinks in." 

To date the video has reached more than half a million people on Facebook alone, with more than 270,000 views.

It has also been played more than 25,000 times on Twitter and was shown to some 20,000 football supporters at the match between Derby County and Aston Villa at Pride Park Stadium in mid-December.
As well as receiving significant media coverage locally before Christmas, the campaign was also reported on the Daily Mail online.

Initial data from the force’s roads policing unit indicates that there has been a drop in the number of drivers over the legal limit for alcohol or with illegal drugs in their system, although fewer drivers were stopped and tested compared with Christmas 2016.

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