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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 18:10 GMT
Police back 'drink-drive' tactics
More drivers were tested over this year's festive season
The police force which recorded one of the highest proportions of positive breath tests claimed the figures showed they were catching drink-drivers.

In Hertfordshire, just under 25% of motorists were found to be over the limit when breathalysed.

The figure compares badly with statistics from Staffordshire where just 1% of drivers had drunk too much when tested.

However the Hertfordshire force insisted the data showed their tactics to beat drink-driving were succeeding.

Media campaigns

A spokeswoman said: "We are seeing it as a positive figure as it shows we are getting the right people.

"The aim is to deter because there are still a number of people who feel they can get away with it and we have to show them, they can't." Across the county, 66 drivers tested positive or refused to take a test, out of 259 who were stopped.

Hertfordshire Police, along with other forces across England and Wales, ran media campaigns urging motorists not to drink and drive.

In Staffordshire, police chiefs were pleased that they recorded the lowest proportion of positive tests.

Complacency warning

Inspector Les Dyble was pleased his force's figures were down on last year, but warned against complacency.

He said: "There are still drivers who continue to take a chance of driving whilst under the influence of drink and put other road-users at risk.

"We do not restrict our breath-test campaign to Christmas and will continue to catch drivers who wish to engage in this anti-social behaviour."

Head of road safety at the AA, Andrew Howard said there had been a change in the way forces had deployed their resources in the drink-drive fight over recent years.

New approach

"What has happened is that the forces have targeted their resources better," he said.

"This has meant there is a higher proportion of people who have tested positive in many cases.

"In the 90s, the procedure was to raise awareness of the chances of getting caught - now forces are attempting to catch those who haven't been deterred.

In the London area, the number of drivers who tested positive doubled, while in Greater Manchester, the figure was cut by 20%.

Inspector Geoff Minshull, from Greater Manchester Police, said of its reduction in positive tests: "There is no secret - it was just that all the pieces of the jigsaw fell together.

"We ran a publicity campaign which was well-supported by the media.

"We also breathalysed every driver who had been involved in a collision."

The BBC's Jane O'Brien
"The police say they are disappointed"
Sergeant Graham Finniss, Devon and Cornwall police
"It is obviously a very significant rise"
Mike Jobbins, Campaign Against Drink Driving
"Youngsters are drinking far stronger alcoholic drinks now"
Mary Williams of the road safety organisation Brake
"I think the message simply is not getting through"
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