Lancashire Police vow as nationwide alcohol breath tests see dramatic fall
The number of alcohol breath tests deployed by police on England's roads has fallen by a quarter in the last five years, a new report has said.
The figures, published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies on Friday, also show the number of Roads Policing Officers employed by English police forces fell by 27 per cent between 2011/12 and 2015/16.
But today Lancashire police vowed there would be no let-up in their fight to catch drink drivers despite falling staffing levels,
Roads Policing Officers are responsible for patrolling motorways and main roads.
Some forces have lost more than 83 per cent of these officers since 2011, the report said.
If the use of alcohol breath tests – used by police to test whether a driver is drunk – had been maintained at its 2011 level, the report said, more than a quarter of a million (260,681) more breath tests would have been used.
The report pointed to a cut in police budgets to explain the decline.
On average, the budget for policing roads has fallen from £5.3m to £4.35m since 2011 for each of the 18 forces who supplied data, the report said.
The institute called for the introduction of random roadside breath-testing to tackle the problem.
It also asked the government to launch mass media campaigns to properly explain the dangers of drink-driving to the public.
It also repeated its call for the drink-drive limit to be lowered from its current level of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg/100ml.
That would put England and Wales in line with the rest of Europe, including Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Katherine Brown, chief executive of the Institute for Alcohol Studies, said: “Where enforcement levels are on the wane, more public campaigns would raise awareness about the dangers of drink-driving, and a lower drink drive limit would provide a cost-effective way of limiting the risk of people getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.”
Lancashire Constabulary has lost 800 officers owing to cuts since 2010, according to the force.
The Institute of Alcohol Studies report says Lancashire now has 112 road officers, compared to 143 in 2011.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “Drinking when driving is unacceptable and our efforts to catch those responsible will continue.
“Catching drink drivers is a priority for police in Lancashire and we will continue to crack down on drink driving to help make our roads safer.”