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Drink-drive suspect reports ‘may well have saved lives’

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POLICE have thanked the public for reporting suspected drink-drivers over the festive period, saying those people ‘may well have saved lives’.

The greater use of social media in the campaign against Christmas drink-drivers has been deemed a success, but the Guernsey Police officer in charge of road policing, Sergeant Tom Marshall, has warned drivers not to think they can get away with it even though the campaign has finished. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 16006801)

The annual campaign launched on 27 November. Officers stopped 853 vehicles at random, with 43 drivers breath-tested.

Six people were arrested during the campaign, which finished yesterday.

Last year, when around 600 vehicles were stopped, 14 drivers were arrested and charged in Guernsey and Alderney, while during the 2016/17 campaign there were 13 arrests and nine charges.

Roads policing sergeant Tom Marshall said this was the first time they had significantly leveraged the use of social media in the fight against drink-driving.

‘It was a deliberate and sustained effort on our behalf to highlight deterrence and reinforce the unacceptability of such dangerous and illegal behaviour,’ he said.

‘It was no accident we were posting on Facebook at midnight, rather part of a relentless effort from Guernsey Police to remind people if they chose to drink-drive, they would be facing the consequences.’

Helped by the campaign, the police saw a marked increase in the amount of information received from the public about suspected drink-drivers.

‘I want to thank everyone who called us, you may well have saved lives,’ said Sergeant Marshall.

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‘It is disappointing we caught three people with exceptionally high readings, and three people within 24 hours, but there was also a two-week stint with no arrests at all.’

Andrea Nightingale, coordinator from the Health Improvement Commission, said followers of their pages on social media saw repeated warnings.

‘Hopefully seeing this ongoing messaging influenced people’s behaviour,’ she said.

‘This has been a really proactive stance by the police this year, to use social media as the method of communication.

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‘It has given us the ability to target all ages, at all times of the day and for the subject to be discussed and shared via Facebook and Twitter, with the majority being positive about our stance.’

Sergeant Marshall added that although the campaign had ended, and will not return until the summer, it did not mean drivers could relax.

‘Enforcement will not cease, random spot checks will not end, our zero-tolerance approach will not be relaxed and there remains no excuse,’ he said.

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