Hampshire police chief blasts ‘arrogant’ drink drivers after rise

CHECKS Police on patrol stopping cars in the run-up to Christmas. Inset, Chief Constable Alex Marshall
CHECKS Police on patrol stopping cars in the run-up to Christmas. Inset, Chief Constable Alex Marshall

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HAMPSHIRE’S top policeman has hit out at ‘arrogant and ignorant’ drink-drivers after arrests soared during a crackdown.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall has told of his disappointment after 240 drink or drug-driving suspects were arrested last month – up 9.1 per cent on 220 the previous December.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall

Chief Constable Alex Marshall

Of those, 176 were charged with driving while impaired, 35 were bailed and 29 released with no further action.

Arrests fell to 21 on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from 30 in the same period last year, leading to 17 charges.

But despite the force’s high-profile Operation Holly – which for the first time included warnings on social networking websites Facebook and Twitter – 16 people were arrested for impaired driving in the first three days of this year.

Mr Marshall said: ‘While I am satisfied that many offenders have been caught and will now be prosecuted, the figures are still disappointingly high. Throughout this campaign and throughout the year, every year, we try to hammer home the dangers of drink driving. This year two of my officers shared their experiences at the scene of a fatal drink-drive collision and a convicted driver warned others of how that “one for the road” can turn your life upside down.

‘I am at a loss as to how with this information, people are still ignorant enough – or arrogant enough – to get behind the wheel after drinking.’

Chief Inspector Cleave Faulkner has praised officers for their work during the campaign. He said: ‘I’m really proud and pleased at the work our officers have done because everyone we have caught is someone we have stopped from killing or seriously injuring someone on our roads. I’m disappointed that people are still doing it in this day and age.

‘Is there a misconception out there that you will never get caught? I do believe that the vast majority of people who drink and drive are people who do it as an opportunist rather than premeditated.

‘They are willing to take that risk think they will never get caught – but they will and we have demonstrated that.’

Chief Insp Faulkner is now calling for the drink-drive limit to be reduced.

He added: ‘I still believe that the drink-drive limit is far too high and it should come down.

‘Alcohol has different impacts on everybody. My message would be if you are going to drive don’t drink anything.

He added: ‘From my perspective any reduction in the current level is something I would welcome if it means fewer people are killed or seriously injured on our roads as a result.’