More than 30 motorists arrested for drug-driving in Hampshire

More than 400 motorists a month have been arrested for drug-driving since the new offence was introduced at the beginning of March, according to a nationwide survey.
More than 400 motorists a month have been arrested for drug-driving since the new offence was introduced at the beginning of March, according to a nationwide survey.
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  • Survey shows differing performance by police forces
  • Institute of Advanced Motorists highlights disparity in arrest totals
  • More than 400 drivers held across UK since new law started
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More than 30 motorists have been arrested in Hampshire for drug-driving since the new offence was introduced at the beginning of March.

The tally of 32 is revealed in a nationwide survey which show that while some police forces have apprehended scores of offenders, others have arrested none.

The statistics were obtained by the Institute of Advanced Motorists under a Freedom of Information Act request to all police forces in England and Wales.

The responses from the forces cover a range of dates from March 2, when the new offence of drug-driving came in, to the end of May.

Information from some forces coveredonly the period until the end of April, while other forces were able to give arrest details up to various dates in May. There was no response from some forces.

IAM said the figures they obtained showed there were 902 drug-driving arrests in total.

It is very clear from our survey that the new drug-driving law has just scratched the surface of a much bigger issue

IAM chief executive Sarah Sillars

The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of arrests, with 214 in the period March 2 to May 11.

Next was Northumbria Police with 97 arrests, then Cheshire with 70, Sussex with 58, and South Yorkshire Police with 55.

At the opposite end of the scale, details from Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Gwent showed these police forces had yet to make any arrests.

The new laws introduced in England and Wales set limits at very low levels for eight drugs commonly associated with illegal use, such as cannabis and cocaine. Eight prescription drugs were also included within the new law, including diazepam, methadone and morphine.

Police are able to use a “drugalyser” to screen for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside. Even if a driver passes the roadside check, officers will still be able to test at a police station for ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin, as well as other drugs.

IAM highlighted the 2010 North Report which looked at the prevalence of illicit drug use among drivers in Britain and said drugs could be a factor in as many as 200 deaths every year.

IAM chief executive Sarah Sillars said: “I am sure the majority of law-abiding drivers would like to know why there is such a variation in the data we have received from police forces. It would be unfortunate if some people got the idea that some areas are softer on drug-driving than others.

“It is very clear from our survey that the new drug-driving law has just scratched the surface of a much bigger issue. It would seem Sir Peter North has been proved correct when he said there is a significant drug-driving problem which is out of all proportion to the number of accidents reported to the police.

“We are delighted that the legislation has been introduced and people are being caught.”

Home Office Minister Mike Penning said: “This Government is determined to tackle the menace of drug-driving - people who drive under the influence not only put their own lives at risk, but also those of innocent motorists, pedestrians and their passengers.

“That’s why we introduced a new drug-driving offence which came into force in March. And why we approved two mobile drug-testing devices for use by police forces and encouraged Chief Constables to use them to help identify drug-drivers.”

This is a table of the number of drug-drive arrests made by police according to statistics published by the IAM following Freedom of Information Act requests.

The time period monitored began for all forces on March 2, save for Gwent where the start was April 1. The date given below is the last date for which arrest details were given. For example, the arrest figure for Avon and Somerset covers the period March 2 to May 6.

FORCE ARRESTS END OF MONITORING PERIOD

:: Avon and Somerset 12 May 6

:: Bedfordshire 4 May 18

:: Cambridgeshire 10 May 1

:: Cheshire 70 May 17

:: City of London 3 May 12

:: Cleveland 21 May 28

:: Cumbria No response

:: Derbyshire No response

:: Devon and Cornwall 12 May 13

:: Dorset No response

:: Durham 23 May 4

:: Dyfed-Powys 5 April 30

:: Essex Not available *

:: Gloucestershire No response

:: Greater Manchester 26 May 11

:: Gwent 0 April 30

:: Hampshire 32 May 18

:: Hertfordshire 15 April 30

:: Humberside 10 April 30

:: Kent 20 May 5

:: Lancashire 10 May 11

:: Leicestershire 0 May 21

:: Lincolnshire 3 April 30

:: Merseyside 24 April 30

:: Metropolitan 214 May 11

:: Norfolk 5 May 5

:: Northamptonshire 4 April 30

:: Northumbria 97 April 30

:: North Wales 34 May 20

:: North Yorkshire 4 May 31

:: Nottinghamshire 20 April 30

:: South Wales 8 April 30

:: South Yorkshire 55 April 30

:: Staffordshire No response

:: Suffolk 11 April 30

:: Surrey 43 May 7

:: Sussex 58 April 30

:: Thames Valley 4 May 6

:: Warwickshire 0 April 30

:: West Mercia 18 April 30

:: West Midlands 11 May 1

:: West Yorkshire 9 April 29

:: Wiltshire 7 May 8

:: * The IAM said: “Essex Police stated they were unable to extract specific drug-drive data from their drink/drugs-drive data, and they were not obliged to extract drug-drive data under the Freedom of Information Act.”