What’s in a number you say ???? well quite a lot when the ‘scores on the doors’ shouldn’t be getting above 35 !!!
Sorry though if you were just about to get excited, this has absolutely nothing to do with darts ! –
I am of course talking about that favourite old cherry of ours, the drink driver. I reckon I must have bored everyone to death pre-Christmas with my incessant re-tweeting and re-posting of a series of anti drink drive messages, mainly based around the excellent Australian TAC videos which put the message out in a far more direct way than any UK Government agency or mainstream broadcaster would dare to. You can by the way, view them here > https://constablechaos.wordpress.com/category/drink-drive/
It would appear however, that over the Christmas period, not enough people viewed my blog pages or took heed of my advice as yet again, the jolly boys and girls in blue of Bigtown had no problem playing our annual festive fun-filled game of ‘Who Can Get The Highest’.
It didn’t even make the challenge any more difficult when I read on some local papers website or another that their local police force was proudly announcing they had ‘breath tested and arrested fewer drink drivers this year than last’ in such excited terms that you would think the war had been won and Billy Ten Beers had hung up his Allegro keys for good. It’s an example of how a bad message can easily be spun to make it sound like the bees knees !!!
Of course the reality of what they were saying is exactly what they had said – they had breath tested fewer drivers, not that there were less drink drivers out there – but the message wasn’t intended to be sold that way. The whole press release had been written to make it sound like there were less law breakers on the roads rather than admit there were less law enforcers on the roads to catch the law breakers in the first place – but why ruin a good story with a few facts ???
I can still remember the days, not that long ago to be fair, when our Inspector had sufficient staff available to actually allocate a car at night solely to the purpose of hunting drink-drivers. We used to take it in turns to crew the car and of course, if any emergency came in that extra hands were needed for we would attend, but other than that we were a ‘non-deployable’ resource, dedicated to eradicating the scum of the road.
Sadly, those days are no longer with us, and less drink drivers are being caught. Not, to my mind, because there are less of them … but because there are less of us to look for them or lie in wait like some wild tiger, hidden in the undergrowth, waiting for a nice juicy antelope to wander past.
Anyway, we like to buck the trend at Bigtown nick, and carry on regardless. call us old-fashioned but despite all the hype, hypocrisy, think tanks and task meetings, in all the interactions myself and my colleagues have with the Greater Good of the British public, they say they would rather we were out there catching thieves than sat at a desk catching writers cramp …. so as much as we can, we do like to keep them happy where possible. And everybody hates a drink-driver, so they’re fair game for all …..
And so the gauntlet was set for this years round of ‘Who Can Get The Highest’. There’s no need to go far into the very simplistic rule of the game suffice to say that over the Christmas to New Year period, the officer who arrested the drink driver who blew the highest reading on the in-station breathalyser wins. There’s no prize , other than the kudos – we wouldn’t like to be seen to be trivialising the whole sorry episode; rather it works as an incentive for us to focus what little ‘downtime’ we get in a positive manner.
There are of course some who don’t see it in the same way as us. They tend to openly, loudly, and generally incoherently shout that we should be ‘out there catching proper criminals; granny muggers and rapists, rather than hounding innocent motorists’ …… except that these people aren’t ‘innocent motorists’, they are the very ones who will (and indeed do) run over Granny Miggins at the bus stop, or plough their two-tonne missile into the back of your perfectly legitimately, safely parked pride and joy and then scarper into the night without a care in the world for the destruction and devastation left behind. Generally of course, they are the people subsequently sat in the back of the police car with the grand prize of a visit to our cell block awaiting.
But back to our competition. What i can say without a doubt this year is that I didn’t win. I didn’t even come close. During our little campaign the highest reading obtained was 148. I only managed a 103 – still three times the drink drive limit but it just didn’t cut the mustard. Even on the day where I caught three drink drivers during the same shift they wouldn’t let me add the totals together which I thought was slightly unfair. I didn’t see the problem in my logic but it did get pointed out I wasn’t playing by the rule so hey ho !
Of course on a more serious note, what we found to be most worrying is not the numbers of drink-drivers we do continue to catch, but the increase in the levels of their intoxication. It’s not that long ago that the majority of people blew in the 50’s or low 60’s – it wasn’t very often than you got people much over 70 (twice the limit). Now a great deal of those caught are close to or over the 100 mark, many are a lot, lot higher !! – a very sad state of affairs if I may say so.
My saving grace though is that if we look at last year overall, I was by and far the winner of the annual ‘Scores on the Doors Trophy’, stemming from an incident a few months back where I carried out a breath test on a guy at an RTC who was fairly coherent, standing, talking and although appearing slightly tipsy, gave no indication of the level of his intoxication … until the numbers came up on the roadside breath test machine as 177 !!! – I have to admit at first to thinking that the device had gone wrong. There was no way in the world the guy appeared to me to be FIVE TIMES the drink drive limit.
His luck didn’t fair much better back at the station when at his first attempt on the in-station machine he only managed to provide one of the two legally required breath specimens, but that reading was 193 – yes you read that right, one hundred and ninety three !! And bear in mind this was a guy who was still walking, talking and carrying on regardless. Me, at half that level of drunkenness, I’d have been flat on my back and comatose …. or dead !
Not being one to give up easy, and determined this guy was not going to get off with a technical ‘fail to provide’, we sat him down for fifteen minutes and then gave him the option of trying to blow again – the result then being a slightly more sedate 188 and 184 !! (for anyone not aware, it is always the lower of the two readings that is used evidentially to charge a person – see we are kind still)
So that’s that then. And my New years Resolution for 2013 – ‘Must Try Harder !!’ Look out drink-drivers of Bigtown, not only will you have me trying to regain the crown, you’ll also have my colleagues trying to outdo me and get even higher !!! – maybe your Resolution should be to throw the drink-drive towel in now !!
Ohh, and whether it be Christmas, New Year, or all year round, before you go out on the ‘razz’ again, here’s a question for you :
Got kids ??? Then think, before YOU drink, before YOU drive !!!
I’ve created this one using clips from the hard-hitting Australian TAC video’s set to a very familiar soundtrack to try and get the message across in a different way – STAY ALIVE – DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE !!
With the Christmas Party season in full swing, it’s worth remembering you could still be over the drink-drive limit well into the following day !!
This was one of the most emotionally charged of all the Victoria, Australia, Transport Accident Commission (TAC) campaigns.
It was created in three parts that went to air sequentially in the days leading up to Christmas.
A Christmas Anti Drink-Drive advert by the Australian government
I picked up on this video link in a tweet by @TrueCrimeUK and then also noted it again on a blog post by @SConTutor –> (http://scontutor.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/drink-drive-what-is-the-point/)
It’s from Australia, it doesn’t make pleasant viewing but raises the question ‘Why are we afraid to broadcast commercials like this in the UK ?’
The background to the video is described in this editorial from the Transport Accident Commission Victoria, Australia :
On December 10th 1989 the first TAC commercial went to air. In that year the road toll was 776; by 2008 it had fallen to 303.
A five minute retrospective of the road safety campaigns produced by the TAC over the last 20 years has been compiled. The montage features iconic scenes and images from commercials that have helped change they way we drive, all edited to the moving song Everybody Hurts by REM.
This campaign is a chance to revisit some of the images that have been engraved on our memories, remember the many thousands of people who have been affected by road trauma and remind us all that for everyone’s sake; please, drive safely.
Drink (and drug) driving repulses me. After many years we have got to the stage where it is considered socially unacceptable here in the UK …. yet many, many people still cannot grasp the concept that drinking and driving wrecks lives.
And the worst thing that police officers across the country are noting is that the levels of intoxication are increasing. Whereas a few years ago, twice the limit (figures around 70µg alcohol per100ml breath) were considered shocking, a great number of readings are now over the 100 mark ! – It’s not that long ago that a detainee of mine attained the second highest reading recorded at our station – 184µg – and that was over an hour and a half after arrest !!
Christmas is coming, and although there’s always a big drink-drive push around the festive season, people need to remember that drink drivers get arrested every single day of the year. It’s not big and it’s not clever – and if you know someone that does drink and drive, do what you can to stop them – before we do or worse, they hurt someone !