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4 January 2019, 15:12 | Updated: 4 January 2019, 15:16
More than 300 people have been arrested during Essex Police's Christmas anti-drink and drug driving campaign.
The campaign ran during the month of December and saw 313 people arrested in total: 140 on suspicion of drink driving, 139 on suspicion of drug driving, and 34 for failing to provide a specimen.
That number of arrests is more than double the 148 from the same time in 2017.
Adam Pipe, Head of Roads Policing for Essex Police, said: “This is an unprecedented number of arrests for a drink and drug driving campaign period, let alone any other month.
“To have, on average, 10 people a day arrested for drink or drug driving related offences is frightening enough but I actually think that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
“What is particularly scary is that it seems people are taking a chance because they think they can get away with it. These figures show they can’t.
“I’ve never seen this many people arrested for these offences in one month. I hope it acts as a wake-up call and worries the public, because it worries us.”
Of particular concern has been the big increase in the number of people arrested on suspicion of drug driving which reflects the trend from across the whole of the year.
There were 754 drug driving arrests in 2017 but in 2018 that had risen to 1,039, and November saw more people arrested on suspicion of drug driving than drink driving for the first time ever.
Mr Pipe added: “I don’t think people are quite grasping the full extent of the danger drug driving poses.
“Our Serious Collision Investigation Unit, which investigates the most serious crashes, has seen a rise in the number of incidents where someone has been killed or seriously injured where drugs are a factor.
“And we also have evidence that drug driving is linked to more serious criminal activity.
“Last year we carried out a study of a sample of people arrested on suspicion of drug driving and out of 231 people arrested, 56 percent had been arrested before.
“We also found that 48 percent of those who’d been arrested before had been so in connection with serious crimes including those linked to violence.
“This makes our work to tackle drug drivers even more important. It’s not only making our roads safer, but it’s helping to tackle and disrupt all sorts of other forms of crime.”
During our month-long Christmas campaign officers from the Roads Policing Unit and the Casualty Reduction Unit carried out a number of proactive, targeted operations and days of enforcement.
This was supplemented by work from local policing officers as well as those from the Special Constabulary, and intelligence and information from the public.
Mr Pipe said this help from the public is crucial: “I believe people in Essex are as disgusted by drink and drug driving as we are. You support the work we do by helping us identify those drivers who are flouting the law.
“This information is invaluable and I want to thank you for it. Anyone who calls in with information about a drink or drug driver is helping to make Essex a safer place and I need your support to continue.
“Our Christmas campaign may have finished but our work to tackle drink and drug driving doesn’t stop. We continue to work with the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, and other partners, to raise awareness of the issue and get those who break the law, off the road.
“Our message for 2019 is drive safe, drive sober.”