Hampshire police say drug-driving now as much of a problem as drink-driving during festive clampdown

POLICE are educating people of the devastating consequences of drink and drug-driving over the festive period – with officers revealing that using illicit substances before behind the wheel is now as much of a problem as drinking too much.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 2:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th December 2019, 11:48 am

Officers from Hampshire’s road safety team are on a month-long campaign as unmarked and marked police cars set up across the county to catch those driving illegally.

But equally important was the message police were looking to get across to drivers at a time of year when partying and drinking are rife.

Sgt Scott Kerr and PC Dave Hazlett pitched up at Lakeside, North Harbour, to speak to workers.

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Sgt Scott Kerr (left) and Dave Hazlett

With the massive business premises home to around 70 firms and having anywhere between 5,000 and 8,000 people at any one time – many of whom drive – it was the perfect location to ensure the message reaches the right people.

‘The message we’re aiming to get across is that drink or drug-driving is not worth the risk,’ Sgt Kerr said.

‘We are finding that drug-driving is now as much of a problem as drink-driving. Both have the exact same consequences with impairment of their driving potentially leading to killing or injuring yourself or someone else. It could also lead to a conviction and losing your licence.

‘Our advice is not to drive for a protracted length of time if you have drunk alcohol or taken drugs. We tell people it’s safer not to drive at all if you have had anything because you never know the impact it will have on a particular person.

‘During this period we urge people to plan journeys and arrange transport. There is no excuse even if it is spontaneous occasion. There are plenty of ways of getting home.’

The police’s festive campaign, known as Operation Holly, has already delivered results with a number of people now facing up to a court appearance.

PC Hazlett added: ‘By promoting our messages we want people to think more responsibly about what they are doing.

‘We rely on the help of people in the community and urge people to get in touch with us through a variety of methods, whether it is 999, 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers.’

While Sgt Kerr and PC Hazlett were speaking to people at Lakeside, roads police officer Adrian Rosser was out patrolling various locations in an unmarked car.

An early morning tip-off had alerted him to a drug-driver who was spotted getting into his car at Gunwharf Quays after leaving a casino. ‘The individual was showing signs of impairment and after we carried out our drug swipe there were indications of cannabis use,’ the officer said.

‘We have a lot of people who are concerned when they see someone they think may be under the influence who contact us which is very helpful.’

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PC Rosser added: ‘A lot of the time people are over the limit through ignorance. We see a lot of people who are shocked when they give a reading when they thought they were safe to drive.

‘The only way of being safe to drive is by leaving enough time so you can be sure it is not in your system.’

He added: ‘Having a visible presence of police cars out on patrol is important because it can act as a deterrent.’