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Drug-driving an 'emerging and serious threat to road safety', statistics show

More than 160 people were arrested as part of the festive crackdown on drink and drug drivers. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

More than 160 people were arrested as part of the festive crackdown on drink and drug drivers. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Drug-driving has been labelled "an emerging and serious threat to road safety" after the number of cases overtook drink-driving for the first time in Suffolk over Christmas.

Chief Inspector Kristin Barnard Picture: SUFFOLK POLICEChief Inspector Kristin Barnard Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

The month-long Christmas drink and drug-driving campaign, which launched on December 1 last year, led to more than 160 arrests - with 72 breath tests carried out and 72 people providing positive readings.

In total 76 people failed drug tests out of 183 conducted.

Another eight people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen, while six were arrested for being unfit though drink or drugs.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Roads and Armed Policing Team (RAPT), said it was disappointing to see people are still taking the risk by getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“A notable difference during this campaign is that there have been more drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol,” he said.

“While this is a concern, drug-driving is something we actively target all year round.

“It’s also a reflection of our increased ability to carry out roadside tests for cannabis and cocaine.”

Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said: “We have put a lot of resources into drug-driving because it is an emerging and serious threat to road safety.

“We have to keep our road network free flowing and as safe as possible.

“I despair at the continuing minority of drink-drivers and now we seem to have an increase in the number of people insisting on drug-driving.

“I hope they are caught and punished severely.

“If that means losing their licence - then tough.

“We have to respect the vast majority of drivers who respect the law.”

Mr Passmore added it was more expensive to test for drugs than for alcohol but added that as the technology improves, it will likely become more cost effective.

Specific time slots were allocated at Ipswich and Norwich magistrates’ courts to deal with those arrested through the campaign.

This year’s figures also appear to show a rise in the proportion of drink-drivers on the roads.

During last year’s campaign 1,751 tests were carried out, with 70 drivers providing positive readings.

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