Essex Police has issued a warning about the dangers of drug driving after revealing it made a record number of arrests for the offence in January.
Figures published on 4 February show that Essex Police arrested 163 people on suspicion of drug driving last month – a 17% rise on the previous high set in December 2018 (139).
Adam Pipe, Essex Police’s head of roads policing, says the ‘staggering’ number continues a 12-month trend, which highlights the issue of drug driving is worsening in the county.
Figures show that 1,039 people were arrested on suspicion of drug driving in 2018 – compared to 754 in 2017.
Adam Pipe said: “In November last year drug driving arrests outstripped drink driving arrests in Essex for the first time ever.
“Last month we’ve seen 50% more drug driving arrests than drink driving arrests and the highest number of drug driving arrests in Essex ever.
“Vehicles are stopped thanks to information from the public and hits on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras but on most occasions vehicles are stopped by officers who witness erratic or poor driving.
“That’s because having drugs in your system impacts on your ability to drive and that puts your life at risk and those of other road users.”
Figures also show that 104 people were arrested by Essex Police on suspicion of drink driving in January.
With more dedicated roads policing officers set to join in the coming year, the force has warned that its capability to detect and arrest drink and drug drivers ‘is only going to increase in the future’.
Adam Pipe said: “More officers around the force are being trained to use the drug wipes meaning we’ll have more opportunities to test drivers we stop and identify the ones breaking the law.
“We’re also going to benefit from the increase in our share of council tax. The force is going to get 215 extra police officers thanks to the rise in the 2019/20 precept – that’s brand new roles that don’t currently exist – and 21 of those are going to be coming to the Roads Policing Unit.
“This means we’re going to have more officers out keeping our roads safe, identifying poor driving, and detecting people who are drink or drug driving.
“Our message is simple: drive safe, drive sober.”