Police numbers dwindle as drink-driving deaths reach highest level since 2010

Police numbers dwindle as drink-driving deaths reach highest level since 2010
The number of full-time police officers in the UK dropped by 17% between 2010 and 20171. Meanwhile, drink driving related fatalities and serious incidents reached a record high in the same period.

Department for Transport data released this summer2 shows there were 250 drink driving-related deaths in 2017, a 9% rise from 2016.

The number of serious injuries that occurred in collisions involving drivers over the limit also increased by just over 10%, from 1,250 to 1,380.

Analysis of the statistics from Vantage Leasing, comes as the Christmas period looms, a season that typically sees a 20% rise in drink-drive accidents.

Rob Walker, managing director of Vantage Leasing, said: “Drink-driving remains a serious issue for UK road safety.

“Since 2010, we've seen a 17% drop in full-time police numbers. At the same time, drink drive fatalities and serious accidents have gone up.

“While having more officers won't solve the problem of drink-driving entirely, they will undoubtedly help reduce the issue.”

Speaking in August this year, RAC’s head of policy, Nicholas Lyes, said drink driving figures were “disappointing”, adding that “much more needs to be done to eradicate the scourge of drink-driving”.

“The data shows that no discernible progress has been made for nine years in reducing the number of people killed in road traffic collisions where at least one driver was over the legal drink-drive limit,” he said.

A declining force carried out 411,000 fewer roadside breathalyser tests in 2017 compared with 2010.

Of those breathalysed in 2017, 16% saw a positive alcohol reading, compared to 11% in 2010.

Earlier in the year it was revealed that police are facing breathalyser kit shortages.

Mr Lyes added: “The Government should be looking closely at all its options, even reviewing the drink-drive limit. But ultimately, it is absolutely vital that we have police enforcing laws and increasing roadside breathalyser testing so that law breakers know they will be caught.”

Hunter Abbott, member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and managing director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense, agrees.

He pointed to a 30% decrease in road traffic officers between 2007 – 2017 and its damaging impact on road safety: “There’s a direct link between cuts in police budgets and increased drink drive deaths. Together with the highest drink drive limit in the developed world, it’s a lethal cocktail.

“A two-pronged strategy of better enforcement, plus a drink drive limit across the UK in-line with the rest of Europe, could save many lives each year.”



1 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/831726/police-workforce-mar19-hosb1119.pdf
2 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/827834/drink-drive-final-estimates-2017.pdf
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