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17 January 2014, 08:52
The results of last month's huge Christmas drink-drive campaign by Hampshire Police have been released.
They used the story of fatal crash victim 10-year-old Evey Staley (pictured) to try to get the message across about the consequences.
The force says more intelligence-led targeting of drink drivers will be carried out this year after the number of those arrested for drink/driving stayed virtually static.
213 drivers were arrested and 137 charged, down 8 on the year before.
The results of the Christmas drink and drug driving campaign, run in conjunction with Thames Valley Police under the title "Is It Worth The Risk?", show that whilst there has been an increase of three on the 210 arrested during December last year, the number of those providing a positive breath test following a collision has reduced by 10 per cent across the two counties.
Statistically, the biggest increase in arrests was in the Andover district but on the Isle of Wight the numbers arrested dropped by 33 per cent. The overall number of arrests between December 1, 2013 and January 1, 2014 was 213.
Encouragingly, out of all those tested, 84% showed zero presence of alcohol in their system, 11% registered a reading for alcohol but were under the drink drive limit and five per cent were over the limit and failed the test.
The number of women arrested for impaired driving offences dropped by 31 per cent this year, and there was an 11 per cent increase in the number of men.
The failure rate of those aged under-25 and over-25 was almost identical with at 5.4 per cent and 5.5 percent respectively. The average age of those arrested was 37, last year it was 36.
The oldest person arrested was 82 and the youngest just 17.
Of those arrested, 137 have been charged, 53 bailed pending further inquiries and 23 were released with no further action.
The anonymous 80999 text number has proved a popular channel for people to report a suspected drink driver, with 63 texts received to the control room during the month of December.
Superintendent Chris Brown, head of Roads Policing for Hampshire and the Thames Valley, said:
"We've run a joint campaign across Hampshire and Thames Valley for the past three years and the numbers of arrests have remained about the same across all five counties. This year we have seen a one per cent increase, despite a very high profile and widely well received campaign.
"We ran operations throughout December and have taken 213 impaired drivers off the roads. In one night's operation alone we stopped 247 cars.
"The story of Evey Staley and her family had a demonstrable effect on everyone it reached, and we firmly believe that everyone knows the message not to drink and drive - so it is time that we started tackling the whole impaired driving issue in a different way through intelligence-led targeted policing as we do other types of persistent criminality.
"With media campaigns and high-profile enforcement there has been a huge reduction of arrests since the law was introduced in 1966, and fatalities on the UK's roads have reduced from 7, 985 that year to less than 2,500 now.
"This year, we have seen a reduction in the number of positive breath tests following a collision, and that 10 per cent reduction is a real positive for us - in fact the vast majority of motorists who were stopped actually blew zero, which shows us again that most people do get the message but that we are dealing with people who are often dependent on or persistently misusing alcohol.
"We use the legislation and power that we have as widely and effectively as possible, and we will continue to do that year round - but it is time to start thinking more broadly to target offenders, further reduce road casualties and make a positive impact on reducing drink and drug drive offences."
Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes added:
"I would like to see these figures fall still further. Everyone has a part to play in this by reporting anyone who chooses to ignore the law by drinking or taking mind altering substances before they get behind the wheel.
"By eliminating the risks, we have a greater chance of preventing a fatality like the one that tragically took Evey Staley's life so prematurely. After all, one drink driver is one too many, and it's not just during the festive season, this should apply all year round."
Commenting on the results, Neal Staley, father of 10-year-old Evey, whose death as a result of the family car being hit by a drink driver who was also high on cannabis was the central focus of the Purple Ribbon Campaign, said:
"We thank everyone involved for making the Purple Ribbon campaign it what it was, successful.
"The support we have had has been quite astounding. So many ribbons have been produced and still we couldn't keep up with the demand. Our donations have hit over £1200, thank you but don't stop.
"We're extremely proud to have been involved in such a fantastically run, hard hitting campaign and know that Evey's legacy will continue to help other people even though they won't know it. All we ask is for everyone to spread this message as far as they can, the more that are aware of the possible consequences, the safer it will be for us all.
"One of the major points that has to be learned from this campaign is not to be frightened of contacting the police if you suspect someone is drink driving.
"There is a good chance you will prevent someone going through the heartache and pain that we endure on a daily basis. We must make it completely unacceptable to drive whist intoxicated. Could you live with yourself for not stopping someone killing an innocent person?
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have suffered at the hands of drink drivers and we wish you the strength to get through. Finally, thank you to our precious Evey Rose who we know has given us the strength to do this. We miss you and love you."