Police forces in England and Wales last year carried out the lowest number of breath tests since data collection began in 2002.
Published by the Home Office on 25 October, the Police Powers and Procedures report shows that 325,887 breath tests were administered in 2017 – down from 381,746 in 2016 and representing a year-on-year fall of 15%.
The Home Office report says the 2017 figure ‘continues the downward trend seen since the peak of 670,023 breath tests in 2009’.
The breathalyser firm Alcosense points out that at the same time ‘fatal road accidents involving illegal alcohol levels have risen by 30% year-on-year’.
The percentage of breath tests which were either positive or refused in 2017 rose by 1% – from 13% to 14% – the highest proportion since 2007.
Looking at the longer term trend, the Home Office report shows that from 2014 to 2017, there has been a ‘gradual increase’ in the proportion of breath tests that were positive or refused – from 11% to 14%.
Commenting on the figures, Hunter Abbott, managing director of AlcoSense and an advisor to PACTS, said: “We’ve seen yet another significant decline in breath tests carried out by police.
“4% of drivers breathalysed after an accident are over the limit – the highest proportion in 10 years. But only 44% of drivers involved in a crash are actually being tested, compared with 56% 10 years ago.
“The latest figures show that the 25% decrease in traffic officers since 2012 has directly resulted in a reduction in road safety.
“We call on the Government to boost funding and resources for better enforcement of drink drive laws.”