Police getting tough on drink crime
MORE than 500 people have been arrested for alcohol-related offences in just five weeks of a festive crackdown in Suffolk.The figures have provoked anger in the county, with one MP branding drink drivers “idiots” and calling for a change in the law so people can only drive after drinking minimal or no alcohol.
MORE than 500 people have been arrested for alcohol-related offences in just five weeks of a festive crackdown in Suffolk.
The figures have provoked anger in the county, with one MP branding drink drivers “idiots” and calling for a change in the law so people can only drive after drinking minimal or no alcohol.
Suffolk police are now urging revellers to drink sensibly while enjoying Christmas and the New Year so they do not spoil the celebrations for others and find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil Aves said: “Police will not tolerate the minority who want to cause trouble and ruin it for everyone else - they can expect the luxury limousine service of one of our vans and they may end up 'enjoying' a vegetable lasagne for their Christmas dinner instead of the traditional turkey.”
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A total of 546 alcohol-related arrests have been made across the county - ranging from drink driving, being drunk and disorderly to theft and assault - since the Christmas Nightsafe campaign was launched on November 14.
In the eastern area there have been 150 arrests in the five weeks, with 39 people arrested in the last week alone.
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DCI Aves, who is based in the eastern area, said 40 of the total arrests were for driving with excess alcohol.
In the west, covering Bury St Edmunds, there have been 171 arrests for drink-related crime, while in the south, including Ipswich, there have been 225 arrests.
David Ruffley, Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, said each drink driving offence was one too many and described the figures as “depressing”.
“I thought that society was winning the fight against idiots that drink and drive. I thought reason had got through to drivers that when they get behind the wheel they are in charge of a dangerous instrument: a car,” he said.
“I think we need to lower the legal alcohol limit for driving so people do get into a situation where they do not drink at all - not a drop - when they get behind the wheel. I think it should be as near as nought as possible, that's my view.”
Carole Whittingham, from the Campaign Against Drinking and Driving, described the Suffolk figures as “very worrying” and added: “Drink drivers are selfish people who have no thought for anyone else.”
The force's campaign is being run across the county, in support of the Government-led alcohol misuse enforcement scheme, until Christmas Eve and will continue into the New Year. It involves the police as well as other agencies, including councils and licensees.
DCI Aves said this year's figures could not be compared to last as the Government had changed the way the data should be collated.
However he added anecdotal evidence suggested there had not been a rise since last year and the change in the licensing laws seemed to have had little effect in the east of the county.
In the days before Christmas police will also be distributing the final two posters of 2005 - Upside Down and Don't Leave Me This Way.
The first shows a young woman in festive garb becoming ill through the effects of too much alcohol while the latter shows a young man much the worse for wear after being assaulted. Both the cartoon-style posters feature the message: “Don't overdo it. Friends stick together and get home safe”.
Superintendent Jon Brighton, operations manager for west Suffolk, said: “My message to the public is simple - come and enjoy your evening out but don't overdo the alcohol and get involved in any form of disorder or criminal activity or we will take action against you.”
The latest drink drive figures for Suffolk are not yet available but figures released last week showed there were 65 positive results from 1,042 breath tests during the first 15 days of December.