Emergency services unite to launch Christmas drink and drug driving campaign

The county’s emergency services and road safety officials have joined together to launch this year’s Christmas drink and drug driving campaign, highlighting the full ramifications that driving whilst under the influence can have.

The annual initiative which began yesterday, Sunday, December 1, and runs until New Year’s Day, will see officers carrying out roadside checks throughout the day and night – including early morning checks – as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity.

This morning, Monday, December 2, officers from the Roads and Armed Policing Team were joined by their Suffolk Roadsafe Board partners – with representatives from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, the East of England Ambulance Service and Suffolk County Council – to launch the campaign at the joint Fire and Ambulance Station, in Bury St Edmunds.

Also in attendance at the event were the Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS) who are a voluntary emergency medical charity that provides specialist clinicians to assist the East of England Ambulance Service at the scenes of incidents where patients require an enhanced level of medical care before they reach hospital.

Motorists under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a contributary factor to a vast number of serious or fatal road traffic collisions, which can very easily result in all of the emergency services present at today’s launch having to attend the scene.

Suffolk Police is encouraging members of the public to provide them with intelligence about potential offenders to help officers identify who they are, so they can take appropriate action and prevent such collisions from occurring.

For the first time this year, an online portal has been set-up to enable members of the public to report any concerns relating to suspected drink or drug-driving directly to the Roads and Armed Policing Team. Those that would prefer to do this anonymously can still contact Crimestoppers as in previous years.

Specific time slots have once again been reserved at Ipswich and Norwich Magistrates’ Courts to deal with those caught drink-driving. This effectively means that offenders could lose their driving licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.

During last year’s campaign in Suffolk 772 drivers were breathalysed, with 72 providing positive readings. 183 people undertook roadside drug tests, which 76 people failed. In addition, eight people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen, while six people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink and drugs.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: “We want everyone to enjoy a safe and happy festive season and so this is one of our most important annual campaigns. Despite our constant warnings and the publicity around the dangers and consequences of drink and drug driving, too many people are still prepared to put their lives and those of other road users at risk. Driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is not a victimless act. Our officers and colleagues from across the emergency services have attended numerous collisions in which people have been seriously injured or killed, where alcohol or illegal substances have been the cause of the incident.

“Visiting the family of a serious collision victim to tell them their loved one has died or has been taken to hospital in a critical condition is perhaps the most difficult task our officers have to undertake. It is a terrible thing to have to tell people at any time of the year, but even more so at Christmas. Our message is simple, don’t take the risk – it’s not worth it. The worst-case scenario is that you are responsible for killing someone, ruining the lives of dozens of that person’s friends and family and a lengthy prison term to contemplate your actions.

“However, for the majority of people caught drink or drug-driving, the punishment will be a minimum 12 to 18-month ban, a substantial fine, and for some people the financial consequences could be more severe if losing their licence also means losing their job.”

Mike Motteram, Road Safety, Speed and Traffic manager at Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Roadsafe board member, said: “We’ve got to keep hammering the message home. If you have had a tipple, a drop, a little bit to drink, do not take the risk because you are going to be endangering yourself and other road users. Drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs when driving. Drivers don’t always recognise when their decision making is impaired through drink. If friends and family members are concerned, they need to be pro-active. Take away the keys, call a cab or offer them a lift home. You may just save someone’s life.”

Three people were arrested in Suffolk on suspicion of drink-driving on the first day of the campaign yesterday. They have all been charged and bailed to appear before magistrates tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3, as follows:

–       At 12.45am officers breathalysed the driver of a car in Station Road, Southwold. A 24-year-old woman from the Halesworth area was arrested and subsequently charged with driving with excess alcohol. She was bailed to appear before Norwich Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

–       Officers in Ipswich had cause to stop a car in Bramford Road at around 3.15am. A 45-year-old man from Surrey was arrested and subsequently charged with driving with excess alcohol. He was bailed to appear before Ipswich Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

–       Finally, at around 3.35am in Cullum Road, Bury St Edmunds, officers again had cause to stop a car. A 24-year-old man from Bury St Edmunds was arrested and subsequently charged with driving with excess alcohol. He has also been bailed to appear before magistrates in Ipswich tomorrow.

Anyone with information or intelligence about drink or drug driving can now submit this online via the portal link here: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/363719P01-PO1 </

Alternatively contact the charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their website www.crimestoppers-uk.org </

In case of an emergency, or if you believe a crime is in progress, always dial 999.

Pictured above at the campaign launch event in Bury St Edmunds are Sgt Paul Jackson and other officers from Bury St Edmunds RAPT & Bury Neighbourhood Response Team; PCC Tim Passmore; Mike Motteram from Suffolk County Council; Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service; East of England Ambulance Service and SARS.

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