Provisional data from the Department for Transport suggests that deaths related to drink-driving are at their highest level since 2009 – but arrests for the offence have halved in the last decade.
Figures obtained by Sky News via a Freedom of Information request show that 30,000 people were arrested on suspicion of drink-driving in 2017 – compared with 57,000 in 2008.
But the associated number of deaths has not dropped with arrests. Instead, it’s increased. There were 290 deaths related to drink-driving in 2017, which is the highest the figure’s been since 2009 when 380 people died.
Road-safety charities have hit out at the figures, saying a fall in police numbers due to funding cuts are behind the increase. Joshua Harris, from Brake, told Sky News: “We are very concerned by these figures. They are really indicative of the savage cuts in roads policing in the last 10 years. We really want to see roads policing made an investment priority so dangerous drivers are kept off our roads.”
Nearly 20,000 officers were cut from the police force during the decade in discussion. Traffic officer numbers have declined by 24 per cent since 2012 – by 2017, there were just 2,643 patrolling the UK’s roads.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said that: “In 2018 there were 29 per cent fewer fatalities involving a driver who was over the legal blood alcohol limit, compared with 2007.”
The legal blood alcohol limit in the UK is 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood – except in Scotland, where it’s 50 milligrams.
The Home Office spokesperson continued: “This year we increased funding for the police by over £970m, including council tax – the most substantial investment in policing since 2010. It is for Chief Constables and locally-elected Police and Crime Commissioners to decide how to deploy these resources.”