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Not the message we want to deliver this Christmas

Officers from Avon and Somerset Police’s Operation Tonic are once again out and about on the roads to highlight the dangers of drink and drug driving.

A visit to a family to tell them their loved one has died or has been taken to hospital is perhaps the most difficult message that officers have to give and they don’t want to deliver it this Christmas.

Their warning comes after a quarter of all fatal collisions in Avon and Somerset over the past 12 months have had drink or drug driving as a contributory factor.*

Supt Claire Armes said: “This year there have been nine fatal road traffic collisions across Avon and Somerset linked to drink or drug driving. This is a worrying statistic and shows that the message is still not getting through. The tragic consequences of risking drink or drug driving are clear for all to see.

“Visiting a family to tell them their loved one has died or has been taken to hospital in a critical condition is perhaps the most difficult message that we have to give. It is horrendous to deliver this message at any time of the year, and it’s certainly not the message we want to deliver this Christmas.

“Our message is simple, don’t take the risk – it’s not worth it. The worst-case scenario is that you are responsible for killing someone, ruining the lives of dozens of that person’s friends and family and a lengthy prison term to contemplate your actions.”

Throughout December, officers are carrying out intelligence-led enforcement activity on our roads and taking every opportunity to remind people of the potentially fatal consequences of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs. Information from Neighbourhood Police Teams and members of the public is used to do evidence based stop-checks to target habitual drink drivers.

So far this month, 89 people have been arrested in connection with drink or drug driving.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Over the festive period, many of us will be having fun celebrating with friends and family. But remember, driving under the influence of drink or drugs is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences. Even being ‘slightly’ over the limit will still land you with a penalty if you’re caught and it’s really not worth the risk.”

Last winter, the Force received over 392 tip offs from members of the public, who contacted us with information about intoxicated drivers. Officers were able to respond to three quarters of tip off calls, leading to146 arrests and 78 people being charged. All other information received was fed into assisting future investigations and intelligence led operations.

Members of the public can help support us by reporting anyone who is suspected of drink or drug driving. If they know about someone who is currently driving under the influence then they should call 999 or in less urgent case then call 101 or report online:

www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/OpTonic

Alternatively, members of the public can make reports through Crimestoppers. The more information that can be provided, the more useful the intelligence will be.

*Due to ongoing investigations, the specific incidents can’t be confirmed at this time.

For more information please contact David.Paull@avonandsomerset.police.uk or mediahq@avonandsomerset.police.uk