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Telegraph raises alarm about drug drive enforcement

Wednesday 2nd November 2011

Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Telegraph claims that many police forces are failing in their duty to detect drug drivers.

While the Government is committed to introducing roadside drug screening devices by the end of the current Parliament, the Telegraph says its FOI request revealed that current “enforcement of the law is at best patchy and at worst almost non-existent”.

The Telegraph says that drug-driving is causing mounting concern within Whitehall. A study by the Transport Research Laboratory estimated that drugs are a key factor in nearly a quarter of fatal road accidents. However, in many parts of the country drivers are not being subjected to Field Impairment Tests (FITs), aimed at detecting motorists who are under the influence of illegal narcotics. The Telegraph’s investigation found that 25% fewer FITs were carried out in May 2011 than in the same period in 2010.

Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety, said: “The biggest shock is the fall in drug drive enforcement through the FIT.

“Not only are tests 24% down at a time when drug driving is high on the agenda and new ‘drugalysers’ are soon to be introduced, but eight out of the 19 forces who can supply information submitted a zero return.

“The perception of being caught is key to preventing drink and drug driving and in drug driving this perception must currently be close to nil.”

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The small and falling number of FIT tests being carried out is completely at odds with the evidence that drug driving is a large and growing problem.

“The figures suggest not enough officers are trained to do these tests and underline the need for an electronic ‘drugalyser’ which will make detection quicker, simpler and more reliable.”

Mike Penning, road safety minister, defended the Government’s record: “We are determined to tackle the menace of drug driving and have taken action to make drug screening devices available for use in police stations. This equipment will speed up the process of testing whether a driver is impaired by drugs and make it easier for offenders to be brought to justice.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.

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