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'It's just shocking really' - figures reveal the extent of drug driving on roads in Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 February 2018

Sgt Chris Harris with a promotional drug test showing the results after a sample of saliva has been tested. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sgt Chris Harris with a promotional drug test showing the results after a sample of saliva has been tested. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Cases of drug-driving have surged in Norfolk, with more people being caught in a single month on the county's roads than there were in 12 months just four years ago.

Sgt Chris Harris takes a sample of reporter Peter Walsh's saliva with the wipe, ready to test it as the police would in a roadside incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSgt Chris Harris takes a sample of reporter Peter Walsh's saliva with the wipe, ready to test it as the police would in a roadside incident. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Figures released by the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Team show that in January this year 68 motorists in Norfolk had specimens of blood analysed after being arrested for driving while being unfit through drugs.

That is almost double the 35 drivers who were caught for being unfit through drugs on the county’s roads in the whole of 2013/14.

Sergeant Chris Harris, from the joint roads policing team, said: “It’s massive. It’s just shocking really. “It’s just shocking that people are willing to risk their lives and the lives of others on the roads.”

The 2013/14 figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and which were up from 11 motorists caught in 2009/10, came before the introduction of new laws making it illegal to drive with certain legal or illegal drugs above a certain level in blood.

The new legislation, which came into force in March 2015, has made it easier for police to tackle drug drivers because there is now a prescribed limit which can be tested for rather than having to rely purely on subjective impairment tests to assess whether someone is unfit to drive.

The new laws have seen the number of motorists caught for drug-driving soar over the past few years with statistics for Norfolk and Suffolk showing 1,011 motorists across the two counties have failed roadside drugs tests in the past 10 months.

Since April last year 486 drivers in Norfolk and 525 in Suffolk have had samples of blood sent off after being arrested for failing roadside drug wipes.

In December last year, during Norfolk and Suffolk Police’s high-profile annual drink-drive campaign 60 motorists in Norfolk and 63 in Suffolk were found to be drug-drivers.

Sgt Harris said he was disappointed that despite all the police campaigns and media coverage over the years highlighting the dangers of drug and drink driving that there were still people out there willing to “chance it”.

He said: “We’re the ones that have to go to fatal and serious collisions and speak to the families - we get to see the real consequences.”

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