Drink-drive tests fall by half in 12 months

Traffic officer cutbacks have been partially blamed for a dramatic reduction of 5,000 fewer drink-driving tests during a summer campaign compared to last year.

Sep 5, 2017

Traffic officer cutbacks have been partially blamed for a dramatic reduction of 5,000 fewer drink-driving tests during a summer campaign compared to last year. The four Welsh forces gave 4,622 breath tests in June this year, while 9,532 took place during the same month in 2016 – a 51 per cent fall. Gwent Police fared worst, conducting just 88 tests this year compared to 1,004 the previous year. The Police Federation of England and Wales has attributed the reduction in tests to traffic officer numbers, but Superintendent Glyn Fernquest, Gwent Police’s lead for roads policing, said it was down to a “more targeted approach”. Of the tests the force took during the campaign, 40 per cent were positive, refused or failed, compared to just five per cent last year. In south Wales that figure was 6.5 per cent, 4.1 per cent in north Wales and 5.3 per cent for Dyfed-Powys. Mark Jones, of the North Wales Police Federation, said: “The number of dedicated traffic officers in the country is down by 30 per cent since 2007. “Looking at the figures, Gwent Police saw a huge drop in the number of breath tests that they conducted. “They actually have dropped from 94 dedicated traffic officers in 2007 to none now, so I`m not surprised that the number of breath tests have gone down.” Dyfed-Powys Police breathalysed 1,133 people in June 2017, compared to 2,751 in 2016, while North Wales Police undertook 1,772 breath tests this year and 3,958 last year. However, South Wales Police’s figure is relatively unchanged, taking 1,629 breath tests this year and 1,819 last year. Supt Fernquest said: “This year we have taken a targeted approach to tackling this issue, working with the community and acting on specific information provided to us. “This has resulted in us being in the right place at the right time to deal with the small minority of irresponsible drivers, who make the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs. “Taking just one chance can have truly devastating consequences for loved ones and other road users.”

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