‘Targeted approach’ leads to increase in percentage of positive drink drive tests

12.00 | 11 August 2016 | | 3 comments

The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) says a ‘targeted approach’ by police forces led to an increase in the percentage of positive tests in its summer drink and drug drive campaign.

Released today (11 August), the figures show a 25% year-on-year reduction in the number of breath tests administered but only an 11% fall in those that were positive, refused or failed.

The campaign ran from 10 June to 10 July and saw 45,267 tests administered. Of those, 4,539 (10%) returned positive, refused or failed.

The corresponding figures for previous years are: 8.46% in 2015 (60,096 tested: 5,085 failed); 5.8% in 2014 (63,688 tested: 2,929 failed); and 4.51% in 2013 (100,892 tested, 3,839 failed).

The NPCC says officers targeted drink drive ‘hotspots’ and describes the results of this approach as ‘encouraging’, while expressing disappointment that motorists continue to drive while under the influence.

However, the road safety charity Brake described the figures as ‘worrying’ and says it is ‘impossible to know’ whether the targeted strategy was a success.

Chief constable Suzette Davenport, NPCC’s lead for roads policing, said: “It is encouraging to see that our intelligence led approach continues to work – fewer tests administered but increased criminal justice outcomes, with forces actively targeting hotspots and using their local knowledge to get drink and drug drivers off our roads.

“We remind those who drive when intoxicated that police forces across the country are better equipped than ever before to detect and prosecute drivers who ignore the law.”

For the first time, the campaign featured the new drug driving swab kits, with 2,588 drug screening devices administered. Of those, 1,028 (39.7%) returned positive.

Suzette Davenport added: “We continue to see the benefit of the new drug driving law and swab kits with nearly 40% of those being screened testing positive at the road-side and being prevented from causing harm to other road users.

“The dangers of drink or drug driving are real and we urge everyone to be responsible. Think twice before getting behind the wheel, drink or drug driving is a selfish decision that can ruin your life or someone else’s. Our message remains the same throughout the year – don’t do it”.

Gary Rae, Brake’s director of communications and campaigns, said: “The latest national figures from the police show worrying signs, with a large drop in the amount of people being tested but an increase in those who tested positive, failed or refusing the test.

“With traffic police numbers on the decline, it’s leaving those who enforce the law with very little resources to catch those who do break the law and despite the police claims of a successful targeted strategy, the degree to which this is actually the case is impossible to know.”




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    I do hope that this intelligence led approach included women. Our research showed that female drink driving rates are increasing faster than men’s albeit males are still the majority.

    Kris Beuret
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    Breath test statistics are so easy to misinterpret and as a result are often misleading.

    The story here from a Police perspective reflects a positive result from targeted enforcement as it is demonstrating a more efficient use of Police resources – less breath tests, more drink drive detections.

    However, this fails to take into account the educational/deterrent effect high visibility Police presence has on people’s decision to drink and drive. Twice as many tests, regardless of the results, mean twice as many people going home/to work and saying “I got breath tested on the way here” and increasing the wider perception of being caught if you drink and drive.

    So you can argue that, while this demonstrates an effective use of Police resources, it is also reducing the deterrent effect associated with a high visibility roads policing presence.

    Ideally, we would want to see both.

    Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire
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    In 2 years, there has been half the number tested, yet twice the number failed. Therefore in two years the problem has nearly doubled. All down to leniency by the judges. It will continue to rise because of this leniency.

    Raymond Smith..Cornwall
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