NEW figures reveal the number of arrests for drink and drug driving across Hampshire has increased by more than 12 per cent.

As part of Operation Holly, which was carried out by Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, the data shows that during their Joint Roads Policing Unit Christmas campaign a total of 601 arrests were made for drink and drug driving.

The operation also saw a further 352 charged and a further 175 released under further investigation.

In Hampshire, 254 drivers were caught under the influence of alcohol or with drugs in their system between December 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018 - which represented a rise of 12.6 per cent on last year’s total of 222.

During the same period in Thames Valley 347 drivers were caught - also a rise of 8.93 per cent the previous year’s figures.

Sergeant Rob Heard, Roads Policing Joint Operation Unit for Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary, said his department’s message is: “Don’t mix drink or drugs with driving - it’s not worth the risk.”

He said: “We’ve seen a rise in the number of people we have arrested for drink or drug-driving.

“New legislation and equipment has made detecting drug drivers much easier and this resulted in 63 extra arrests.

“Our commitment in roads policing is unwavering towards preventing the distress and misery caused by driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

“Such behaviour on our roads has far-reaching effects not just for the impaired driver, but for any innocent road users affected by their destructive decisions.”

The data found that more than three quarters of the drivers arrested were male, with the highest offending age group between 21 and 30.

Throughout the operation a combination of high visibility patrols, covert operations and intelligence-led policing aimed at targeting persistent offenders and drink and drug drivers were used

Members of the public were urged to contact the police.

Sgt Heard added: “The lives of individuals and their families can be torn part through a combination of physical, psychological and legal consequences.

“Too many people continue to be complacent about the realities of road deaths and serious injuries. That’s why we want everyone to be clear about their responsibilities, and have respect for each other on the road.