New online system launched to report drink and drug driving concerns
PUBLISHED: 17:19 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:15 03 December 2019
An online portal has been launched by police for the first time this year to help the public report any suspected drink or drug driving concerns over Christmas directly to officers.
Suffolk Constabulary's annual drink and drug driving crackdown began on Sunday, December 1, and the campaign was officially launched on Monday in Bury St Edmunds.
Police are once again encouraging the public to provide them with intelligence about potential offenders to help officers identify who they are, so appropriate action can be taken.
But this year, an online portal has been set-up to make it easier for the public to report any concerns directly to the roads and armed policing team.
People who would prefer to do this anonymously can still contact Crimestoppers as in previous years.
During last year's crackdown in Suffolk, more people failed roadside drug tests than provided positive readings for alcohol.
A total of 72 drivers, out of 772 breathalysed, provided a positive alcohol reading - compared with 70 out of 1,751 tested in 2017.
While 76 people failed roadside drug tests from 183 stopped last year. In 2017, 67 people were positive for drugs from 194 tested.
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Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk roads and armed policing team, said: "We want everyone to enjoy a safe and happy festive season and so this is one of our most important annual campaigns.
"Despite our constant warnings and the publicity around the dangers and consequences of drink and drug-driving, too many people are still prepared to put their lives and those of other road users at risk.
"Driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is not a victimless act. Our officers and colleagues from across the emergency services have attended numerous collisions in which people have been seriously injured or killed, where alcohol or illegal substances have been the cause of the incident.
"Visiting the family of a serious collision victim to tell them their loved one has died or has been taken to hospital in a critical condition is perhaps the most difficult task our officers have to undertake. It is a terrible thing to have to tell people at any time of the year, but even more so at Christmas.
"Our message is simple, don't take the risk - it's not worth it. The worst-case scenario is that you are responsible for killing someone, ruining the lives of dozens of that person's friends and family and a lengthy prison term to contemplate your actions.
"However, for the majority of people caught drink or drug-driving, the punishment will be a minimum 12 to 18-month ban, a substantial fine, and for some people the financial consequences could be more severe if losing their licence also means losing their job."
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Specific time slots have once again been reserved at Ipswich and Norwich Magistrates' Courts to deal with those caught drink-driving.
This effectively means that offenders could lose their driving licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed while facing additional fines.
On Monday, police officers were joined by their Suffolk roadsafe board partners - with representatives from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, the East of England Ambulance Service and Suffolk County Council to launch the campaign at the joint fire and ambulance station in Bury St Edmunds.
Also in attendance at the event were the Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS) - a voluntary emergency medical charity that provides specialist clinicians to assist the ambulance service.
Mike Motteram, road safety, speed and traffic manager at Suffolk County Council and Suffolk roadsafe board member, said: "We've got to keep hammering the message home.
"If you have had a tipple, a drop, a little bit to drink, do not take the risk because you are going to be endangering yourself and other road users. "Drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs when driving.
"Drivers don't always recognise when their decision making is impaired through drink. If friends and family members are concerned, they need to be pro-active. Take away the keys, call a cab or offer them a lift home. You may just save someone's life."
Three people have already been charged with drink driving - including one arrest within 45 minutes of the first day of the campaign on Sunday.
At 12.45am on December 1, officers breathalysed the driver of a car in Station Road, Southwold.
A 24-year-old woman from the Halesworth area was arrested and subsequently charged with driving with excess alcohol. She was bailed to appear before Norwich Magistrates' Court tomorrow.
Officers in Ipswich had cause to stop a car in Bramford Road around 3.15am. A 45-year-old man from Surrey was arrested and subsequently charged with driving with excess alcohol. He was bailed to appear before Suffolk Magistrates' Court tomorrow.
A 24-year-old man from Bury St Edmunds was also arrested and subsequently charged with driving with excess alcohol after being stopped in Cullum Road. He will also appear before magistrates in Ipswich tomorrow.
Anyone with information or intelligence about drink or drug driving can now submit this online via the portal link here.
Alternatively contact the charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their website here.