FESTIVE tweets will be used by the police for the first time in their annual bid to stop Christmas and New Year drink-drivers.
They will use social media to give live running scores of how many drivers they have stopped and the number who have failed breath tests.
And at times they will use Twitter and Facebook to reveal where they are carrying out an operation.
The idea is specifically aimed at the 17 to 24 age group who might be tempted to drive after drinking on a night out.
The announcement came today as Hampshire and Thames Valley police launched their annual Christmas drink-drive campaign – the two forces’ traffic officers already work together as one unit.
Superintendent Chris Brown, who is the head of the joint team but who is running the Hampshire crackdown, said: ‘Using Facebook and Twitter gives us an immediate presence.
‘It makes us highly visible particularly with young people who seem to live their lives while they are out by using social media on their phones.
‘In some cases we will tweet and Facebook during an operation. For example, we might say we’ve stopped eight cars in Goldsmith Avenue at Fratton and all drivers produced negative results.
‘It’s a positive message telling people that we are out there taking action to stop this.’
But, of course, most operations will not be publicised as they happen.
Supt Brown said the anti-social stigma of drinking and driving had now made it unacceptable behaviour. ‘But there is still a hard core of drivers out there who think it is OK to do it.’
Last Christmas Hampshire and Isle of Wight police breathalysed 4,000 drivers and arrested 250 of them.
‘Our message is very simple, very clear. Do not drink and drive. At all. Not one drink.
‘Everybody’s metabolism is different. Each person’s body deals with alcohol differently. So it’s best to avoid it completely.’
As part of this year’s campaign – Operation Holly – the Hampshire force will release hard-hitting videos. One will be an interview with an anonymous woman convicted of drink-driving who describes the impact the conviction had on her life.
Another features police officers who have attended a fatal road crash at Christmas caused by a drinking driver and the devastating effect it had on the victim’s family.
You can follow Operation Holly on the Hampshire Constabulary Facebook page or by following @HantsPolice or @HantspolRoads on Twitter.