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Drug-driving arrests surpass drink-driving for first time in Suffolk

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Rising demand for drugs in Suffolk and improved roadside testing are behind increased drug drive arrests in the county, police bosses have said.

Latest data revealed arrests for drug-driving surpassed drink-drive arrests for the first time in Suffolk last year.

The 672 drug driving arrests in 2018/19 represented a 20 per cent increase on the year before, while drink driving increased by 11.3 per cent to 652 arrests according to data presented to Suffolk police’s accountability and performance panel.

Police arrest. Stock picture
Police arrest. Stock picture

The county’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said it was 'deeply disturbing' that people were making a conscious decision to use drugs before getting behind the wheel.

“I think it’s not necessarily just county lines, but county lines come up because of a demand for drugs and I think society needs a very serious reflection on this,” he said.

Read the information and realise some prescription drugs are dangerous - Tim Passmore

“Driving under the influence of drink is bad enough but now we’ve got drugs as well.

“We mustn’t forget some of these are prescription drugs, which people aren’t aware of. Read the information and realise some prescription drugs are dangerous.

“But it’s so irresponsible and selfish – it beggars belief that people do continue to drive under the influence of drugs.

“We have put a huge amount of money, nearly a couple of hundred thousand pounds, for drug wipes, which cost a lot of money.

“We have a very good hit rate with those that are stopped and tested.

“The message to the public is if you think you are going to get away with drug driving you are not because we are onto you.”

For officers many of the signs of drug driving are the same as drink driving, such as erratic steering or driving too slowly, but drug wipe kits have enabled them to successfully test for substance traces.

Simon Megicks, assistant chief constable, said: “Road traffic offences are still a priority for the constabulary.

“This year is the first time our drug drive numbers are in excess of drink drive numbers.

“That’s down to a much clearer ability to recognise drug driving using wipes and send them off to the labs.”