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Drink-drive arrests plunging as a result of breathalyser shortage, senior officer warns

(PA)
(PA)

More suspected drink-drivers are getting away with the crime as a result of a breathalyser shortage, a senior police officer has said.

Speaking to Mail Online, the chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, Richard Cooke, suggested a lack of testing kits is making it easier for potential offenders to avoid arrest. The publication says the West Midlands Federation has just 302 breathalysers for use among 3,500 frontline officers.

Cooke said: “My worry is that drink-driving will seep back in when we’d sort of eradicated it and made culprits social pariahs.

“The danger is that people will think it’s acceptable again. Colleagues are telling me this is a common thing, where they’re having difficulty getting hold of functioning kits when needed.”

Latest Department for Transport figures show the number of breath tests in 2017 dropped to 325,877, compared with 563,427 in 2011. This is despite a seven per cent increase in the number of people killed or injured in accidents involving drink-drivers in 2016 over the previous year.

Dave Blundell of the Police Federation added: “I am sure that, like any piece of equipment in these stringent times, all sorts of equipment are in short supply. There is a cost factor involved, hand-held breathalysers are an expensive piece of kit, hundreds of pounds each.

“They are subject to maintenance, each one is calibrated to high standards, and, if they fail a calibration test, they are taken out of use.”