They say it’s always best to plan early for Christmas and that applies just as much to the police as it does to each of us.
The Christmas drink drive campaign is one of many events the police plan for. Most years I’m asked to ‘give a quote’, attend a launch and then let everyone just get on with it. It’s a slick operation, but over the last few years I was increasingly coming to the view that it has lost its bite.
Previous campaigns were okay, but I knew we wanted and expect more than just okay. I wanted it to be hard hitting, a campaign where those who think they will take a chance think again, and those who take a chance end up being caught.
Safe and Social Driving is a priority of my Police & Crime Plan and is primarily focused on prevention, but is equally clear that ‘the police must enforce the law when necessary’. The Fire and Rescue service are brilliant at preventative work, as are most of the pubs and clubs, but it’s only the police that can do enforcement and if they don’t enforce the law, then nobody will.
For sure, the police aren’t short of things to do at Christmas. My job was to set out my concerns, back that up with what the public tell me and, if necessary find the money to pay for additional patrols.
Gloucestershire is a rural county with great pubs and restaurants that we want to thrive, but the public are telling me it is these rural and suburban places where a persistent minority are prepared to chance it saying, ‘you never see the police around here’.
The 2019 campaign will be different, firstly it will have two distinct phases.
Phase 1 is running now and is an intense prevention campaign with partners giving support and advice to anyone who will help or listen.
On 3rd December, Phase 2 begins and is out and out police enforcement. I wouldn’t expect the police to disclose details of these operations, but they certainly will have bite and people will be caught.
Secondly the police will focus on the suburban and rural areas as much as they have on the city and town centres.
It’s best to plan early for Christmas, so please plan never to be behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking or taken drugs.