Last week, the press branded Gloucestershire the ‘worst region in the UK for driving under the influence.’ Wow!
Whilst on the surface, this paints a picture of the county as a hotspot for dangerous driving – these figures really only tell part of the story. My view is that a high number of drink and drug driving arrests when compared to other forces, actually demonstrates how seriously Gloucestershire Constabulary takes its commitment to roads policing and tackling drink and drug drivers.
In the first half of this year, 420 people in Gloucestershire were arrested for drink and drug driving. Of those, almost as many were arrested for taking illegal drugs and getting behind the wheel, as those under the influence of alcohol. It’s a surprising shift from the ‘don’t drink and drive’ message we’re all so used to hearing, but with the addition of roadside drug testing kits, it’s a pivot the Constabulary is mastering.
When I took on the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, I too used to believe that higher crime figures equalled a less safe county. However, as my experience in this role grows, I am learning that sometimes higher crime figures can be attributed to all manner of positive things: recruitment of more police; more victims feeling confident to report their crimes; more intelligence from victims being fed into the Constabulary; police focus on crime hotspots; and improvements to crime recording procedures – something the Force is working very hard to improve upon following its independent inspection just before I took office.
From Monday 22 August, Gloucestershire’s Road Safety Partnership, which combines expertise from my Office, Gloucestershire Constabulary, Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service – will be reminding road users this summer not to be tempted to drink or take drugs, with a range of adverts appearing across the county. They’ll also be promoting an innovative campaign from road safety campaign group: THINK! This campaign urges people not to let their friends drink and drive.
So, while the headline states that Gloucestershire is the ‘worst region in the UK for driving under the influence’ – just stop and THINK! It could be because a driver who drinks or takes drugs in Gloucestershire, is just more likely to be caught.