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14-year-old caught drink-driving in Norfolk

12:22 02 October 2014

Norfolk Constabulary vehicle.

Norfolk Constabulary vehicle.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Children as young as 14 are being caught drinking and driving in East Anglia, police records show.

A total of 68 under-18s were arrested for drink driving in Norfolk between 2008 and 2013, with 69 detained in Suffolk and 37 apprehended in Cambridgeshire.

The youngest drink-drive offender in Norfolk was a 14-year-old, arrested in 2011, with 15-year-olds held in Suffolk in 2010 and 2011 and in Cambridgeshire in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The figures were supplied following a Freedom of Information Act request by in-car camera provider Nextbase, with data requested from 43 police forces.

Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, head of roads policing for Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “Drink-driving is policed as part of the fatal four.

“We recognise that drink-driving is one of the four top causes of either collisions or collisions contributing to fatalities, so we do focus on that.”

He added there is a specific focus on educating young people about the dangers of drinking and driving, with more than 8,000 young people across the region contacted in the last year.

“Officers will go to year 11 students, around the age group that have been involved in these occurences,” he said. “They focus on the consequences of this behaviour.

“I’m quite proud of what we’ve done in relation to the education.”

He stressed that it was rare for an under 18 to get behind the wheel while under the influence, with 772 drink-drive arrests in Norfolk and Suffolk in 2013 and fewer than 10% of these being under-18s.

And he noted that some of these may relate to the driving of mopeds rather than cars.

The number of under-16s arrested for drink-driving between 2008 and 2013 was 17 in Norfolk, 14 in Suffolk and 12 in Cambridgeshire.

Every one of the 43 forces had apprehended under-18 drink-drivers during the six years.

The figures showed that the worst English region for underage drink-driving in this period was Greater Manchester where 409 under-18s were arrested.

Other hotspots included Scotland, with 718 drink-drive offenders from 2008 to 2013, Hampshire (276 offenders), Devon and Cornwall (241) and Sussex (160).

Nextbase spokesman Bryn Brooker said: “Uninsured drivers on UK roads pose a huge threat to the safety of the vast majority of responsible motorists and pedestrians.

“These threats come in many forms and today’s findings go to show that it’s not just those who illegally choose not to buy insurance. Motorists have to be aware of such threats and take appropriate measures to mitigate the risk.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Tackling drink-driving is a priority for the government and we are taking steps to strengthen enforcement, including allowing roadside breath tests to be used as evidence in prosecutions and removing the statutory right of drivers to demand a blood or urine test at the police station which can give them time to sober up.

“We have also made it a requirement for convicted drink-drivers to take medical tests to prove they are no longer alcohol-dependent before being allowed to drive.”

Later the DFT spokesman said: “Under-age driving is illegal and no person under the age of 17 should be driving a car. We have tough laws in place to tackle those caught driving without a licence.

“Drink-driving is a menace that costs lives, and the Government is strengthening the law to help police crack down on this problem.”

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