Drivers have been warned about driving under the influence of drugs – as police reveal they are carrying out stop checks.
Northumbria Police have today (Thursday) revealed they have received funding from Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council to purchase hundreds of new portable drug testing kits.
The equipment enables them to test drivers on the roadside and get immediate results telling them whether or not the driver is under the influence.
Traffic officers have been utilising the equipment since the new drug driving laws were introduced.
But now Special Constables will be carrying out stop checks in Newcastle city centre and Gateshead town centre to make sure nobody is putting lives at risk.
They will also be testing taxi drivers operating in the city to ensure they aren’t putting innocent lives at risk by driving while high on drugs.
Operation Beacon has already been running for two weeks and more than a hundred vehicles have been stopped.
One driver was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs while dozens more were dealt with for potentially dangerous vehicle defects.
Sergeant Pinner Rana, of the Northumbria Police Motor Patrols Department, said: “Drug driving puts lives at risk and there is absolutely no excuse for it.
“It is particularly dangerous for someone to be driving in our busy city centres while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“There are a number of pedestrians and vulnerable road users whose lives could be put at risk through reckless behaviour behind the wheel.
“We will be carrying out a number of stop checks in the coming weeks and that will see visitors to the city centre, commercial drivers and taxi drivers all being tested.
“This operation will be carried out by our traffic Special Constables who are all volunteers and give up their free time to keep the public safe.
“I am proud of the work they do and want to thank them for showing such commitment to supporting operational policing.”
Jonathan Bryce, Licensing Manager at Newcastle City Council Licensing Authority, said: “It is vitally important that members of the public are able to feel safe and we’re delighted to be able to support Northumbria Police in the work they do targeting motorists who irresponsibly put the safety of others in jeopardy.
“Newcastle City Council Licensing Authority has stringent and robust procedures in place and conducts regular enforcement to ensure our licensed hackney carriage and private hire fleet and their drivers maintain expected high standards.
“Joint operations such as this are welcome in extending the message that all drivers must comply with the law as the vast majority do.”
“Anyone who gets behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol is putting people’s lives at risk and by carrying out this operation, officers are able to take action against those who show a flagrant disregard to road safety.”
Anneliese Hutchinson, Service Director at Gateshead Council, said: “Drug testing is just one of the enforcement and preventative tactics that we use with our partners over the festive period to keep people safe.
“Gateshead licensing officers are carrying out a number of joint enforcement exercises on hackney carriage and private hire drivers and vehicles with Northumbria Police in the lead up to Christmas and we welcome this additional checking of drivers as it helps protect the public.”
Anyone who suspects a person of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is asked to contact police on 101 or report it online.
In an emergency, when there is an immediate risk to person or property, you should always call 999.