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Police remember tragic Manea couple as they launch drink and drug driving campaign

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More than 680 suspected drink or drug drivers have been arrested in Cambridgeshire so far this year as police warn motorists of the risks of driving under the influence this festive season.

At the start of a month-long drink and drug driving campaign beginning tomorrow (December 1) the force warns that doing so could destroy lives forever.

In September, former March man Liam Mansfield was jailed after killing a woman by colliding head on with her car while overtaking a tractor when over the drink drive limit.

Drug driver Luke Norton (53433274)
Drug driver Luke Norton (53433274)

Last year drug driver Luke Norton killed Manea parents Bob and Paula Batemanafter taking cocaine and falling asleep at the wheel, while drug driver Kathryn Watkins collided head-on with a van and then fled, leaving her friend to die in the back seat.

A total of 699 drink and drug driving related arrests have been made in Cambridgeshire so far this year, with the last month of 2021 still to go. This is compared to a total of 792 arrests in 2020.

PC Jon Morris, Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s casualty reduction officer, said: “While this year’s arrest statistics are lower than last year at the moment, we will not be complacent and do all we can to highlight the dangers of getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

“If drivers do so, not only do they risk their own lives but the lives of others as highlighted in the heartbreaking cases above.

“The global pandemic changed many people’s Christmas celebrations in 2020 and we understand some people will want to make the most of the festivities this year. However, the law remains the same and if people are caught driving under the influence, they will be prosecuted.”

Officers will be enforcing the campaign while on patrol and will be carrying out roadside checks across the county due to the serious consequences of drink or drug driving.

In addition, five police operations will take place in December focused on the morning after and funded by the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner through the Vision Zero Partnership’s Casualty Reduction Fund.

Darryl Preston, Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “As a former police officer I have dealt with far too many serious injury and fatal incidents on our roads – and having to deliver that painful message to loved ones was always, for me, the hardest job in policing.

“This year I spoke at length to a mother whose daughter was tragically killed by a drink-driver and I want to be clear – driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is completely unacceptable.

“Those who choose to take drugs or drink and drive are not only endangering themselves but are also risking the lives of others around them.”

As well as speaking to the PCC, Claire Danks also spoke openly in our podcast about fatal collisions, part of our first ever true crime series.

PC Morris added: “Whether you stay at home or go out to celebrate Christmas this year, remember that alcohol takes time to leave your system and you may still be over the drink drive limit the following morning.

“Consider a designated driver system or make sure to book taxis in advance, so there is no temptation to drive home while potentially over the limit. Before you get behind the wheel please think – is it really worth the risk?

“I’d also like to remind people that they can help us make the roads of Cambridgeshire safer by reporting others they suspect of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.

“We have a dedicated hotline and all calls are taken in confidence. One call could save a life.”

The hotline: 0800 0320845 is available 24/7. If someone is in immediate danger, always call 999.

For more information about drink or drug driving, the law and the dangers it can cause, visit the force's dedicated web page

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