Police forces' summer drink driving tests down 50%

Pint of beer and car keys Image copyright PA

Police have conducted 5,000 fewer drink driving tests during a summer campaign compared to last year, with cuts to officer numbers being blamed.

The four forces in Wales gave 4,622 breath tests in June this year, compared to 9,532 in June 2016 (a 51% drop) - but a senior officer claimed police took a "more targeted approach".

Gwent Police conducted just 88 tests this year, compared to 1,004 last year.

The Police Federation said the drop in tests was due to traffic officer cuts.

Of the tests Gwent Police conducted in 2017 during the targeted approach, almost 40% were positive, refused or failed - compared to just 5% the previous year.

In south Wales in 2017 that figure was 6.5%, 4.1% in north Wales and 5.3% for Dyfed-Powys.

However Mark Jones, of the North Wales Police Federation, said the approach being adopted was a result of cuts to the number of police officers.

"The number of dedicated traffic officers in the country is down by 30% since 2007," he said.

"Looking at the figures, Gwent Police saw a huge drop in the number of breath tests that they conducted. They actually have dropped from 94 dedicated traffic officers in 2007 to none now so I'm not surprised that the number of breath tests have gone down."

Dyfed-Powys Police breathalysed 1,133 times in June 2017, and 2,751 the previous year while the figure for North Wales Police was 1,772 compared to 3,958.

The figure for South Wales Police hardly changed - at 1,629 for June this year and 1,819 last year.

Supt Glyn Fernquest, force lead for Roads Policing in Gwent, said: "This year we have taken a targeted approach to tackling this issue, working with the community and acting on specific information provided to us.

"This has resulted in us being in the right place at the right time to deal with the small minority of irresponsible drivers, who make the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

"Taking just one chance can have truly devastating consequences for you, your loved ones and others road users.

"Please plan ahead and ensure that if you are out having a drink, you have a safe and reliable way of getting home."

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