Surge of drug-drivers arrested on Hampshire’s roads in police festive crackdown

Road safety Sergeant Rob Heard, of Hampshire's roads policing unit, showing off the drugs testing kit from a police car.
Road safety Sergeant Rob Heard, of Hampshire's roads policing unit, showing off the drugs testing kit from a police car.
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DRINK and drug-drivers have been arrested in their hundreds as part of a police clampdown over the Christmas period, it has been revealed.

Officers from Hampshire police arrested 275 people for drink and drug-driving across the county and Isle of Wight.

This year’s crackdown, run in conjunction with Thames Valley Police, saw a surge in the number caught behind the wheel with drugs in their system.

READ MORE: Pictures of the drink-drivers caught from the Portsmouth area 

Compared to last year’s campaign, the average number of drug-drivers has increased by 28 per cent, while drink-driving arrests fell by five per cent.

And while there was a slight decrease in those arrested for drink-driving, road policing chiefs are still frustrated that people are ignoring their warnings.

Sergeant Rob Heard, of Hampshire Constabulary’s roads policing unit, said: ‘Our message is simple – don’t mix drink or drugs with driving, they may stay longer in your system than you think – It’s not worth the risk.

‘Such behaviour on our roads has far-reaching effects not just for the impaired driver, but for any innocent road users affected by their destructive decisions.

‘It is disappointing that some people still take that risk. Too many people continue to be complacent about the realities of road deaths and serious injuries.’

More than 4,200 breath tests were carried out during the campaign, codenamed Operation Holly, with 155 blowing over the drink drive limit.

Sgt Heard said this year’s effort had been ‘very intelligence-led’, often supported by tip-offs from the public.

He added the rise in drug-drivers might not be down to more people taking drugs, but the introduction of roadside testing kits that weren’t available four years ago.

Running from December 1 to January 1, a total of 666 people were arrested across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Thames Valley.

More than half of the 284 drivers tested for drugs had a positive result for drugs; 150 people who had a drug wipe test had a trace of drugs in their system, with a further, 26 arrested for failing a field impairment test.

The worst offending drink-driving age group were 35-49 years while the highest number of drug-drivers were aged 17-24.

Police are still appealing for the public to report anyone they know drinks or takes drugs and drives.

To do so, call police on 101, of if it’s an emergency 999. To report someone anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.