Drink and drugs tests not a replacement for officers

31 July 2015

Forces need to maintain the dwindling numbers of traffic officers as well as ensure they do what they can to target those drivers who drink and drive, the Police Federation has warned.

Jayne Willetts, roads policing lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, urged the service to do more to ensure that messaging focussed on lowering drink and drug driving is properly targeted and effective.

The warning follows the release of statistics, from the National Police Chiefs Council, which reveal a small drop in the numbers of under-25s drink and drug driving but shows an overall a rise of over 5,000, compared with last year, of  people, who are driving under the influence of drink and drugs.

Ms Willetts said: ‘Roadside drink and drug tests are proving to be an effective tool in determining whether road users are unfit to drive, but these tests should not be a replacement for the dwindling number of officers on the road, who are there to deter potential law breakers and enforce road traffic laws, in order to protect other members of the public. Unfortunately, cuts to police budgets mean that resources are often prioritised elsewhere, leaving many roads in England and Wales poorly monitored.’

She added: ‘It’s encouraging to see that intelligence led policing is targeting the drink and drug offenders on our roads. And their hard work is beginning to pay off as we are seeing a 1.5 per cent drop in the numbers of under-25 drink-drivers.

‘However, it’s important to note that the overall percentage of offenders being caught has still increased in the last 3 years, with over 5,000 people in England and Wales continuing to drink and drive. More needs to be done to ensure that messaging focussed on lowering drink and drug driving is targeted and effective.’