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29 November 2013, 07:21 | Updated: 29 November 2013, 07:23
This Christmas, the victims of drink and drug impaired driving will be remembered by police officers across the two counties with the wearing of a special purple ribbon.
Officers from the Roads Policing Unit will wear the ribbons throughout the campaign, which is being launched Friday 29th November and runs until January 1, 2014.
In a joint initiative with Thames Valley Police, as part of the combined-force Joint Operations Unit, officers will use the ribbons as a reminder to all those they come into contact with about the risks and dangers of drinking or taking drugs and getting behind the wheel.
The two forces will be working in close partnership and conducting more cross-border operations than ever before with the aim of reducing the number of alcohol and drug related incidents on our roads.
Last year, across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Thames Valley area (Jan-Dec 2012) 68 people were killed or seriously injured where alcohol was a factor (61 seriously injured and 7 killed).
So far this year (Jan-Aug 2013) 38 people have been killed or seriously injured where alcohol was a factor (six killed and 32 seriously injured).
Between January and September 2013, 15,508 people have been breath tested-1,569 people have been caught drink driving, down 5 per cent from 1656 in the same period last year.
This year, the joint force campaign is called “Is It Worth The Risk?” and focuses largely on the many varied, and often devastating, consequences of drink and drug impaired driving.
Hampshire Constabulary’s central case study is that of ten-year-old Evey Staley.
Evey died after her family’s car was hit by a driver who was two-and-a-half times over the drink/drive limit and had been smoking cannabis.
Evey’s story will be explored in a series of hard-hitting videos being released daily over the course of a week commencing December 9.
The colour of the ribbon worn by officers, staff and emergency service workers supporting the campaign was chosen because purple was Evey’s favourite colour.
The Staley’s family vehicle, which was decimated in the collision which killed Evey, will feature as the focal point of a crashed vehicle display, which will be held at venues across Hampshire, and starts at Newport on the Isle of Wight on December 5.
The crashed vehicle display will be staffed by officers from the Roads Policing Unit, supported by colleagues from Hampshire Fire and Rescue and South Central Ambulance Service on the mainland, and Isle of Wight Fire Service and ambulance service on the Isle of Wight.
Members of the public will be able to speak to officers to gain advice and guidance to keep them safe this festive season, and officers will also explain the Purple Ribbon Campaign and hand out leaflets which tell Evey’s story.
The campaign is once again supported by Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, South Central Ambulance Service, the Isle of Wight Road Safety Partnership, Southampton City Council and many other partner agencies.
A range of promotional materials have been designed, all featuring the purple ribbon, and will appear on buses in Southampton and on the Isle of Wight, bus stops, at both Red Funnel and Wight Link ferry terminals, on taxi seats and petrol nozzles across the area.
The campaign will be led via our social media channels, and begins with a “tweetathon” during which we will tweet every stop and activity during the first impaired driver operation this Sunday night (December 1).
Following the success of last year’s campaign, members of the public will once again be urged to “shop a drink driver” by texting the anonymous text service on 80999, and this will be widely publicised throughout the month.
Inspector Andy Storey, leading the campaign in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said:
“People know our message, everyone knows not to drink and drive – and yet still people do it.
“We want to make it socially unacceptable - that is why we are focussing on the ultimate consequence. The bottom line is that people die as a result of drinking and driving, just one death is too many.
“Our message is don't drink and drive, full stop. But, for those that still choose to risk it, we are pouring extra resources into policing our roads this Christmas. Will be looking out for you, we will arrest you and you will lose your licence.
“Our campaign focuses this year on the death of a ten-year-old girl, and in a series of video interviews, you will see first hand the unending damage drinking and driving causes and the unforeseen consequences for all those involved, including those who respond to such terrible incidents. It is those untold consequences we want to bring home to people, to show the devastation this causes.
“We want people to remember, too, that you don't have to feel drunk to be impaired. You don't have to take illegal drugs to be unfit to drive. We're asking people to be honest with themselves - think really hard. Have you had a drink? Do you really think you're fit to drive? How do you really know? You could lose your licence, you could lose your job, you could injure or kill a child or yourself. We aim to get everyone to ask themselves: is it worth the risk?
“Along with my colleagues in roads policing and other teams across the two force areas, I will be very proud to wear the purple ribbon this Christmas.
“It is right that we remember all those who have died as the result of drink and drug driving. We hope that members of the public who see the ribbon take a moment to stop and think about what it means.
“Drinking or taking drugs and driving devastates lives. The only safe way is not to drink at all when driving, get a taxi, get a lift, arrange a designated driver and take turns.
“Is it worth the risk? The answer is absolutely not.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, Simon Hayes, said:
“I commend the two forces of Hampshire and Thames Valley for putting together this hard-hitting campaign to make our roads safer over the festive and New Year period.
“The message from them is very clear – if you’re going to drink alcohol or take mind altering substances, don’t drive - as the risks of getting caught at this time of the year are far greater than at any other time.
“It’s not just your life you’re putting at risk, it’s the lives of your passengers and other road users too. It’s simply not worth it.”