It is now 50 years since the first anti-drink drive campaign and the sight of police officers conducting roadside breath tests on motorists has almost become a part of UK Christmas tradition.
This year’s winter campaign was launched at the beginning of December and the police will not only be targeting drink drivers but also those driving under the influence of drugs.
Despite these years of effort, driving whilst impaired continues to be a problem, particularly at this time of year. There are still too many drivers willing to risk theirs and others’ lives rather than pay for a taxi or simply walk home. I hope I am proved wrong but I predict an increase in drivers providing positive tests this year, especially by those driving under the influence of drugs. I have seen a notable drop in driving standards in recent months and I think some drivers have become complacent because of the reduced visibility of road policing patrols, resulting from cuts to the police budget.
Another unwanted Christmas tradition which still blights this country is the increase in instances of domestic violence at this time of year. I am unable to erase from my memory some of the horrific sights that I saw during my police service whilst attending domestic murders, during the festive season.
I know families who no longer celebrate Christmas because that day is now the anniversary of the murder of their daughter.
The Christmas period brings heightened tensions to relationships and far too many arguments still end up in the use of violence and threats. It is a busy time of year for the support agencies; yet again the womens’ refuges throughout the county may breach their capacity and children will spend Christmas away from their home. Whilst I am aware men can suffer from acts of domestic violence, it is still woman and children who are by far the more predominant victims.
Over the years, the various partner agencies have succeeded in making drink driving and acts of domestic violence to be regarded as more abhorrent and unacceptable than before. Whilst incidents may have reduced, the overall problems have certainly not gone away and neither are they likely to.
These unwanted UK Christmas traditions are here to stay and we can only hope there will be fewer victims of drink drivers and domestic violence each year.