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Issue:- 7 June  2012

Don't Risk Getting Penalties

MOTORISTS are being urged not to risk getting penalties that can ruin lives as the European Football Championships kicks off in June.   Merseyside Police launched its summer-long drink and drug drive campaign on 1 June 2012, with the aim of reducing road deaths and injuries caused by those who drive under the influence.

Officers will be out in force across Merseyside throughout the summer targeting motorists suspected of driving after having had a few drinks or taken drugs as well as stopping drivers to speak to them about the risks of getting behind the wheel while under the influence, particularly the morning after.

In anticipation of the Euros, Police are concerned that people watching the games in their local pubs may consume more alcohol than they had planned and be tempted to risk the drive home. Equally, those watching the games at home are at risk of having larger measures and may unwittingly be over the legal limit when driving to work the next morning, or taking the children to school.

In the last 4 years, June has seen 767 drivers arrested for drink or drug driving and there have been 889 collisions where alcohol or drugs have been a contributory factor.

Chief Inspector John Hogan, head of Merseyside Police's Roads Policing Department, said:- "We want people to have a summer that is memorable for all the right reasons. With lighter nights, and hopefully warmer weather, we appreciate that people may like to enjoy a drink on an evening, especially with the Euros on, but if they are going to do that they shouldn't then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. We want to challenge the perception among some that it is acceptable to risk lives by driving under the influence. The consequences can be devastating. At best, you can expect to lose your license and receive a conviction on your record that could impact on your career. At worst, you could kill or seriously injure someone and be contemplating the pain this will cause others from behind bars for many years."

As well as targeting motorists who drink or take drugs and then drive, officers will also be cracking down on people who get behind the wheel the morning after when they could still be over the limit.

More than one in four of all deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal limit and one fifth of arrests made in previous campaigns were people who failed breath tests the morning after.

Men aged between 17 and 29 years are particularly prone to drink or drug driving and part of the Force's summer campaign will involve officers working with driving instructors as part of the ENGAGE initiative and educating young novice drivers about the risks.

Sgt. Paul Mountford said:- "Young drivers have so much to look forward to, they should not consider risking it all by driving under the influence. Even the smallest amount of alcohol or cannabis can impair your ability behind the wheel. If it is in your system, you will be prosecuted, and may end up with a criminal record. Generally, home-poured drinks tend to be larger than those served in pubs, leading to a greater volume of alcohol consumption. This can take a number of hours to be eliminated from a personís body, often meaning that a driver can still be over the limit or impaired the following day. If anyone is any doubt they should use public transport rather than risk driving."

Any driver involved in a road traffic collision, or who commits a traffic offence, can expect to be breathalysed and may be required to perform an impairment test. Should they fail the breath test, or perform poorly during the impairment test they may be arrested and the penalties can be severe.

Sgt. Mountford added:- "Drug driving is currently a topical issue in the UK and we are seeing a number of people who are taking drugs, particularly cannabis, and then driving. Cannabis can cause people to feel more relaxed and less alert - clearly not a safe condition to be in when driving. Merseyside Police has been very pro-active in countering drug driving for the past two years with more than 646 impairment tests conducted and 279 arrests. Impairment testing will continue to be an important part of our campaign."

Former Merseyside Detective is now Assistant Chief Constable!

ANDY Cooke has returned to Merseyside Police as Assistant Chief Constable for Operations. Andy, who left Merseyside Police in 2008 to join Lancashire Constabulary after being promoted to Assistant Chief Constable, had previously served with Merseyside Police for 24 years. Andy joined Merseyside Police in 1985 having obtained an Honours Degree in Politics from Nottingham University and he has served as an investigator at every rank during his career.  In 1998 Andy was promoted to Temporary Detective Inspector in charge of the Robbery Squad where he led and managed covert investigations in to force wide and regional armed robbery offences.  In 1999 he was promoted to Detective Inspector in charge of Target Operations and Major Crime Unit where he was responsible for the conviction of numerous key individuals involved in serious and organised crime. In 2001 he was promoted to Detective Chief Inspector, Senior Investigating Officer, in the St. Helens area. He was responsible for leading all major investigations and the development of crime reduction strategies.  He had responsibility for policy formulation as the Force Crime Reduction Co-ordinator, on promotion to Superintendent before being posted back to St. Helens as operations manager.  In 2005 he was promoted to Detective Chief Superintendent and was instrumental in developing the nationally recognised 'Matrix' team responsible for tackling gun and gang enabled crime.  In 2006 Andy became Area Commander for South Liverpool where he was instrumental in significantly reducing crime, Anti Social Behaviour and disorder. During his time in charge South Liverpool became one of the highest performing Basic Command Units in the country. During his time at Liverpool South Andy also devised an approach to tackling serious and organised crime within the security industry in the run-up to Capital of Culture. The initiative was lauded at a national level and was taken up by the Metropolitan Police who have used the approach in advance of the 2012 Olympics.   In 2008 Andy left Merseyside after being appointed as an Assistant Chief Constable at Lancashire Constabulary with the responsibility for Specialist Operations.  During this time he devised strategies which significantly improved the safety of communities in Lancashire by developing  the forceís capability to deal with serious and organised and cross border criminality through the implementation of a co-ordinated, multi-faceted approach to serious criminality and the introduction of a £3.5m Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) programme across Lancashire.  In 2010 he became Assistant Chief Constable for Territorial Operations, Criminal Justice and Contact Management, leading the constabulary to considerable reductions in crime and increased detections against a backdrop of significant cuts and resources.  Nationally, Andy is the national lead for witness protection and is leading a programme to implement witness protection on a national basis under the new National Crime Agency. 

Andy, who is married with twin daughters, said that:- "I am delighted to be back in Merseyside and look forward to the challenges that the force has to offer. Merseyside Police is recognised nationally for its pioneering work and innovative approaches to tackling crime and Iím looking forward to working with Area Commanders to make the streets even safer for our communities."

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