New cop in charge of keeping region's roads safe

14 Nov 2016 08:36 AM

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Meet the police officer who has been handed the job of tackling crime, disorder and dangerous driving on our regions roads.

Chief Inspector Dave Guthrie has taken on the position of head of Motor Patrols at Northumbria Police to replace John Heckels as the face of road safety in the North East.

The department is responsible for responding to the majority of incidents on our roads whilst they also take on the lengthy investigations that follow.

It also includes the flagship Op Dragoon team who are responsible for targetting high risk offenders who use the roads to carry out criminal activity.

Chief Inspector Guthrie will oversee that investigative work and will also be the police lead for any road safety campaigns Northumbria Police is running or supporting.

In fact, on Monday (November 14) the National Police Chiefs Council will launch an enforcement campaign about the dangers of using your phone whilst driving.

And now Chief Inspector Guthrie has said that the use of mobile phones behind the wheel is just one of a number of things the department will clamp down on.

He said: "Using a mobile phone behind the wheel will always affect your concentration and the consequences of not focusing on the road can be devastating.

"Time and time again we say that motor vehicles have the ability to kill numerous people in a split second. We need to make sure people are listening to our advice.

"Speeding, not wearing your seatbelt, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they all impair your ability to drive safely and responsibly.

"Our priority will always be to take people off the roads who think it is acceptable to put other road users at risk and, when appropriate, to put them before the courts.

"But we also know that some of the most serious criminals in our region use our road networks for drug dealing, trafficking and major crime.

"Those criminals often use vehicles that are uninsured and unlicenced and by targetting those vehicles we can disrupt major criminal activity and make the north east a safer place to live."

The NPCC will launch their campaign on Monday which will see police forces across the country holding a sustained period of operational activity to stop people using their mobile phone behiond the wheel.

They held a campaign in May this year during which 2,418 vehicles were stopped across the UK of which 2,323 mobile phone offences were detected.

Since April 2014 Northumbria Police have dealt with 1,543 motorists for driving whilst on their mobile phone including 606 in 2015 alone. This year 410 motorists have been dealt with for the offence.

Those figures are also supported by a recent RAC survey that found 31 per cent of 1,714 motorists asked said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel - compared with 8 per cent in 2014.

The number of drivers who said they sent a message or posted on social media rose from 7 per cent to 19 per cent, while 14 per cent said they had taken a photograph or video while driving.

If you want to report a dangerous driver, including someone who persistently uses their phone behind the wheel, then contact the Op Dragoon team by calling 101.

View the full news release