More than 6,600 arrested in annual drink and drug-drive crackdown

More than 6,600 arrests were made in the latest national Christmas drink and drug-drive police operation.

Feb 22, 2024
By Paul Jacques

The campaign known as ‘Operation Limit’ has been run nationally since 2022 and brings police forces together in what the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) describes as a “concerted effort to remove drink and drug drivers from our roads”.

In total, 49,812 breath tests were conducted with 9.5 per cent of those testing positive, failed or refused.

Almost 50 (48.5) per cent of the 6,846 tested for drugs were positive.

Overall, 14 per cent of tests showed a positive result for drink or drugs. In total, 6,616 arrests were made for drink and drug driving offences and 1,589 individuals were charged, the NPCC said.

Figures show 84 per cent of drink or drug-driving offenders were male with 74 per cent 25 years old or over.

“The 2022 Operation Limit did not require police forces to report back on individuals charged so the 2023 charge figure is not comparable,” said the NPCC.

The 2023 campaign saw all police forces take part in Operation Limit, engaging in education and awareness events, communications around the risks of driving under the influence, targeted vehicle stops in hot spot areas and intelligence led patrols.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, NPCC lead for Roads Policing, said: “Drink and drug driving is responsible for many serious and fatal collisions every year and it is completely avoidable.

“Policing has always taken a robust approach to removing drink and drug drivers from our roads and as long as people continue to undertake this dangerous behaviour, we will continue to make stopping it a core roads policing priority.”

Chief Superintendent Marc Clothier, the NPCC lead for Operation Limit, added: “This national collaboration around Op Limit has been really successful and we’ve seen a wide range of tactics employed by forces around the country.

“We’ve also seen a number of innovative tactics such as the sending of Christmas cards to known offenders, reminding them that we are undertaking proactive patrols and underlining the dangers of drink and drug driving.

“While numbers of positive tests are very slightly lower than last year, far too many individuals still make the selfish choice to drive under the influence or drink or drugs.

“We know that both alcohol and drugs have a significant impact on reaction times, control of the vehicle and awareness of what’s happening around you so it is absolutely not worth risking your life and the lives of other road users.”

Responding to the results, Joy Allen, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners lead on drink and drug-driving, said: “The results of this police operation show the deeply worrying numbers of people who recklessly get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are unfit to drive through the effects of alcohol or drugs. The decision to do so puts lives in danger – it is never worth the risk.

“The value of this yearly operation is clear from the numbers arrested and I am grateful that our police forces give such a focus to this kind of criminal behaviour on our roads in the Christmas period, but the problem is a year-round one and there is far more to be done to reduce the risk of becoming the victim of an incapacitated driver.

“Whilst too many people still drink and drive, resulting in lives being lost and serious injuries, society’s attitude towards its acceptability changed many years ago. The fact that almost half of those stopped and tested for drugs during this short campaign failed those tests is terrifying.

“The best way to prevent serious and fatal incidents on the roads is to stop those in no fit state to drive from doing so.

“The need to educate people about the risks of driving with drugs in your system – illegal or legal ones – is urgent. Society must make clear its wholehearted disapproval of those who put themselves and others in danger by driving under the influence of drugs.”

Ms Allen, the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Durham, added: “PCCs will continue to push for roads policing to be given the high priority it deserves in local policing plans.

“Central to this is a need for increased funding so that police can increase testing for drink and drugs on the roads. We must ensure that more of those who make our roads unsafe through their irresponsible actions are caught.”


Miriam’s story

Miriam Briddon was the daughter of Ceinwen and Richard Briddon and sister to Katie-Ann, Lowri and twin sister to Megan. Miriam was 21 years old and due to graduate from Coleg Sir Car in Carmarthen with a first-class honours degree in textile design in 2014 when she lost her life at the hands of a drink-driver.

On March 29, 2014 (the eve of Mothering Sunday) Ms Briddon left the family home near New Quay in West Wales to drive and spend the evening with her partner only a few miles away.

As she was nearing the end of her journey along the A482 Just outside Aberaeron during the hours of darkness, a Silver VW Golf driven by a 34 year old local man, collided head on with her at significant speed having lost control on a left hand bend. The collision occurred wholly on Ms Briddon’s side of the road, shunting her backwards a considerable distance and killing her instantly.

The man had been drinking earlier that day and his blood alcohol levels saw him to be significantly over the prescribed drink drive limit at the time of collision. He pleaded guilty to causing death by undue care while over the prescribed drink-drive limit.

He was sentenced to prison but had his sentence reduced on appeal to five years claiming it to be manifestly excessive. He received a five-year driving ban to start after his release.

Ms Briddon’s family and community at large were devastated by her loss and felt they needed to do something positive in her memory, more so due to the leniency of sentencing that was handed to the driver and to others who caused fatal collisions through drink, drug or dangerous driving.

The Briddon family campaigned tirelessly for a change in the law.

Their petition – which they took to 10 Downing Street in 2016 – gained over close to 110,000 signatures, crossing the 100,000 threshold required for the Government to consider a debate on the matter.

“Today we see their efforts alongside many other grieving families and campaigners which resulted in the sentence for the most dangerous cases of death by dangerous or drink/drug-driving extended to life in prison,” said the NPCC.

Ms Briddon’s mother, Ceinwen Briddon, said:  “Miriam was a beautiful person inside and out . She was always happy, kind and caring of others. She was a loving daughter, a close sister and a good friend to many. She had a bright future ahead of her and she looked forward to graduating within a few months.

“Through no fault of her own, Miriam was cruelly and instantly taken away from us.

“The selfishness of a drink driver devastated us as a family that night and it’s very hard to put into words how losing Miriam affected us all in the following days, weeks, months and years. Losing her like we did, had a massive impact on us and how we think and live from day to day.

“The shock, the disbelief, the pain, the anger and the heartache of losing Miriam is with us as much today as what it was when she was killed nearly ten years ago; and it will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

“I would challenge anyone to think and answer the following: ‘How would you feel if you killed someone innocent by drink or drug-driving?’ As a family, we have been given a life sentence of grief.

“Our message is simple – Never drive under the influence of drink or drugs.  Get a taxi, a bus, or phone a friend, but never drive.”

Ms Shiner said: “The decision to consume alcohol or take drugs and get behind the wheel is entirely irresponsible, reckless and criminal and its impact is hugely significant on individuals, families and whole communities as we see in the tragic story of Miriam Briddon.

“On behalf of everyone involved in Op Limit I would like to thank Ceinwen for her bravery in both campaigning and continuing to tell Miriam’s story as a stark warning of the very worst that can happen at the hands of a drink driver.”


 

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