Incidents of drink-driving are on the increase, around 7% up typically, and yet some areas are seeing a 26% decrease in arrests for the offence.
Budget cuts are affecting all aspects of policing; the West Midlands force has just 302 working breathalyser kits to share between 3,500 officers.
Road deaths have increased by an average of 20% since 2017.
In January 1966, the new Road Safety Bill was introduced, part of that bill concerned alcohol levels for drivers, although the breathalyser wasn’t introduced until a year later. In the intervening years, cases of drink-driving have reduced dramatically; 1979 saw 19,740 prosecutions, thirty-five years later and the numbers are less than half – 8,740 in 2015.
Despite those numbers, incidents of drink & drug driving are now on the increase – drink-driving offences are the highest they’ve been since 2012, and yet the number of tests carried has been significantly reduced – 563,427 in 2011, to just 325,887 in 2017.
But then with a 12.8% decrease in actual ‘feet on the beat’, is it any wonder that criminals are getting away with more?
John Apter, chairman of the National Police Federation states: “The number of motorists stopped for drink & drug driving, using a mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt has dropped by 52% since 2011, but I don’t believe that the reduction is due to people no longer carrying out the offence, it’s simply that they aren’t being caught”.
“We are just being stretched so far that we no longer have the budget to target certain areas, like roads policing”.
It has taken decades for drink-driving to become so stigmatised to the point of a change in society, from it being seen as ‘the norm’ through to being concerned about it due to the legal repercussions, to actually condemning those that still think they pose no risk while under the influence.
But a number of high-ranking officials are worried that drink-driving will become more acceptable again, due to the lower incidences of prosecution; Richard Cooke, chair of the West Midlands Federation believes that people could view it as a lesser crime, thanks to the de-prioritisation of prosecution. The reality is that the police (and society) still view it as completely unacceptable, it’s just that “colleagues are constantly reporting that they have difficulty getting hold of a working kit when they need it”.
The BBC has calculated that since 2010, funding for the police has been cut by around 20% in real terms, despite promises from the government with regards to an extra £450m in ring-fenced funding. The problem partly stems from where that funding is found.
Half of the £450m will be made up from council tax, but this requires all the councils to increase their individual Council Tax rate to the maximum allowed, so the reality is that the ‘guaranteed’ funding isn’t … guaranteed.
Police resource, both in terms of workforce and equipment is at an all-time low. Depending on which statistics you believe, the number of officials has fallen from an all-time high of 177,600 in 2010 to just below 150,000 in 2018, some even put the figure as low as 122,000.
A recent survey found that around half of the population believe they haven’t seen a police officer in their area for more than a year.
It’s clear that budget cuts and restrictions are affecting the policing of our roads, perhaps it’s no wonder that automated technology like safety cameras are taking over the day-to-day infringements, but even with smart tech that can monitor distracted driving, it needs a trigger – someone actually speeding.
Drunk driving may not necessarily trigger a safety camera, and even if it does, today’s tech can’t tell that the driver is over the blood-alcohol limit, so it’s a feasible concern that some motorists will take their chances and risk lives while doing so.
There’s no simple answer, but it does lead us back to last weeks report on Huawei filing papers for technology that can detect a drink or drug driver in an autonomous car; perhaps their technology could be put to better use?
Of course, it could still be construed as a huge civil rights issue, but perhaps this is a case where the needs of the few, outweigh the needs of the many? Just how far should society go in order to eradicate drink-driving completely?
The budget cuts mean that forces are having to prioritise their workload, and police numbers are dwindling, it’s easy to envisage a day that only the most serious of crimes will be investigated by the police, perhaps with a secondary, privatised force investigating all other crimes.
Can society eradicate drink or drug driving? Would you accept a mandatory anti-drink-drive system in your car? Or should the government change priorities? Let us know in the comments.
More cut in this country than a butcher in a abattoir thats our beloved hoverment for you
Don’t for get where the money comes from – out of your and my pockets! How much are you willing to contribute to reduce the cuts?
Why contribute any more? We give over £14bn a year to other countries, why not try using some of that? Nobody pays my bloody bills, why should we as a country pay anybody else’s? We give aid to India. The say they don’w ant or need it, they have starving people all over the country and, oh, a space programme. Since when did we become responsible?
Common Purpose police are prioritising diversity crimes and social media monitoring, nothing to do with budget cuts
I’m struggling to understand how it is known that drink driving is on the increase if convictions are down. Is it because police suspect drink driving but are unable to prove it? If so, then the reported increase should include the word “suspected”.
I would be interested to see the methodology for the “reported increase” figures.
Possibly it’s the number of failures as a proportion of the number of tests that’s risen. It’s the only way I can think of actually measuring it rather than taking a wild stab in the dark.
The truth is that the devastating cuts to police officer numbers has made road traffic policing a low priority. This can be seen by the lack of visible policing on motorways and major roads. Added to this and the fact that many police forces use the formerly known road traffic officers as firearms officers one can appreciate the call on their time. I do not believe there is a scientific measurement on drink driving other by the the numbers prosecuted, the figure of a rise of 7% must surely be a guess and I would like to see the evidence behind the figure. To put the decrease in the lack of number of breath test kits as the reason behind lack of arrests is highly suspicious. It is all very well having equipment for policing when there are no officers to use it.
The fact is that we have twice as many cops per 10,000 population as we had in 1960, yet they are invisible, presumably chasing social media name callers, protecting “VIPs”, and playing in their helicopters instead of being out on the roads nicking drunks, tailgaters, those who fail to indicate and otherwise drive dangerously, following up burglaries and other legitimate police work.
7 million cars on the road in the 60’s. Over 38 million now!
increase police numbers for road patrols, allow more on the spot fines, and the roles would be self funding – the amount of people that drive with un roadworthy vehicles, eg lights, tyres etc etc has become far more prevalent since the numbers of police has been cut.
Fines dont have to be extortionate, take Portugal for an example – they can have discretionary fines between €25 and€125 for the same offence…so, dont give them attitude!
I must pass at least 10 cars a day with failed bulbs, just in 2 x 1 hour journey…theres the costs covered already for the two offices….
I think the only time you’ll get pulled for drink driving is if you have a crash or if you get dobbed in. Never see the police.
Only time you ever see Police here is at roadside checks for Drink Driving, speeding, never on the beat. Wish they curb mobile use as well, but every day I see many still using phones while driving, and stationary at junctions and lights. I even drive right up beside them if there is another lane when stopped they never notice I am there looking at them, totally engrossed in their phone, i drive off when the lights are green they are still there stopped, LOL LOL LOL
They take enough in fines where does that go? Then there are the scrapped cars, which they should get at least £200 for or do they have to pay the dealer to scrap them?
There are plenty of offences to convict drivers of without expensive speed guns and breathalyzers, I was behind a woman the other day with a Baby on board sign in the rear window that had 2 brake lights out/ not working, So she wants you to be careful not to rear end her but she isn’t going to help prevent the bump.
Yet these police forces buy expensive HGVs units to cop mobile users, they are no good for catching speeders, how is that money spent wisely.
Please explain the thumbs down
Perhaps Huawei could develop an alcohol breath sensor for the automotive industry that could be retro-fitted into any vehicle, that would set off the car alarm, or even disable the ignition. It could potentially see insurance companies reducing premiums if such a device is prooved to have been fitted.
I believe such devices already exist and are mandatory in California for convicted DUI drivers who wish to re-take the wheel.
How can that be when the Conservatives are the party of Law and Order? Hang on, all that has gone now, they are the party of disarray, frailty, and the masters of deceit and indecision.
Last year, I paid 1515 in tax towards the national debt. If we didn’t have to service over a trillion quid in Bonds, my tax could be spent on Police, NHS, road re-surfacing and all sorts of useful things. But thanks to PFI and previous Govt’s spending money we NEVER had, we now have to pay it all back. Fiscal reality is a B*tch.
The party of law and order – I think not. They are so far removed from reality they would need a long haul flight to return.
Sadly, if there were an election, there would be no viable alternative. So much for politics and democracy.
Today’s conservatives are mainly left of Tony Blair’s Labour. They conserve nothing, least of all quality of life.
The police are far too busy pursuing ‘hate crime’ to bother with motorists. More kudos in hate crimes when socialists can bandy these figure in the Houses of parliament to show what a hateful right wing country we live in.
The number of police shouldn’t matter in terms of this if there was 1 police officer or 1 million, at the end of the day it’s falls on the person’s shoulders if you get behind the wheel drunk, if you kill someone as a result a valid defence isn’t “oh well there wasn’t enough police on the roads to stop me”
FRance has overcome this. you have to have 2 breath test analysers in your car by law- however just how low can the UK sink in its lack of everything. 1.6 billion can be found instantly by May to buy votes from the DUP ( our money too as tax payers) but no money for police, NHS and a host of other things
Of course it makes sense as does a no start option if you don’t use the seatbelt. Not sure any regulations will ever stop determined wrong doing but it will at least assist people who are borderline and about to make a very bad decision.
I suspect that the number of drink/drug drivers actually caught by Police is minimal, more likely is that the ones who are found to commit the offence have offered themselves up by crashing their vehicle. Figures to show that would give a better indication of the effectiveness of traffic policing at this time.
Zero tolerance – no alcohol levels at all acceptable. I believe Sweden has this and it works for them.
Another piece of propaganda by police to apply pressure for increased funding. And yet they don’t help themselves by allowing coppers with common sense (that applies to the brainwashed and self serving culture at the top) to change their priorities, such as fighting crime instead of imposing political correctness, less emphasis on LGBT’s, squandering absurdly large amounts of money on holidays by going through the motions of pursuing the Maddie search (still ongoing and which includes outrageous and misleading claims on success just round the corner!), over preoccupation with personal risk (eg refusal of coppers to enter a pond that was waist deep, where a young child was struggling to survive in water), reduce the number of disrupting, low- level helicopter flight that produce no results – their use works out at £1500 per hr – too much time on performance propaganda while the bulk sit behind desks sending out, “how-well-we-are-doing” communications to the public. And a personal one: reporting in-home drug cultivation to police nearly 3 years ago, being told that a surveillance would be pursued with nothing done after 3 years, and now discovering that the cultivation continues! The recent increase awarded out of our rates will have no iota of an effect on improved performance. And isn’t it very interesting how most Superintendent jobs in the police “force” are now taken by women. I’m sure that they deserve the rapid promotions but it doesn’t stop me wondering whether there is a link between the collapse of protection of the public and the fast-stream promotions in favour of these ladies.
Declare drink/driving to be a hate crime — police will have all the breathalysers they need!!
If it were impossible to start a car if you were over tge limit then there can not be a crime to commit. No brianer in my opinion and shoukd be fitted to all new cars. Reduced premiums possibly as well.
Since moving house my lounge on the first floor overlooks a corner where I see van drivers, mothers with babies in their cars etc, very easily and I see many drivers are driving with a phone in their hand. These are not younger people but 30 to 50 year old drivers.
It has been quite an eye opener – they do not see me as I am above their eyeline, the police are obviously no threat.
Somehow we have twice as many cops per 10,000 population as we had in 1960, yet they are invisible, presumably chasing social media name callers, protecting “VIPs”, and playing in their helicopters instead of being out on the roads nicking drunks, tailgaters, those who fail to indicate and otherwise drive dangerously, following up burglaries and other legitimate police work.