Britain’s drink driving hotspots are located in areas with high migrant populations, it has been revealed. Three of the top ten worst areas have large Eastern European populations, who are generally not as aware of the dangers of drink driving as native Brits.
A freedom of information (FoI) request lodged by motoring.co.uk has found that found that Boston, Peterborough and Wisbech all feature in the top ten postcodes for the number of resident motorists banned for drink-driving since 2011, the Daily Mail has reported. All three have large Eastern European populations, drawn by the lure of plentiful jobs within the agricultural industry in those areas.
Also featuring heavily in the top ten, with three postcodes in the list, is Leicester, described recently by local Member of Parliament Keith Vaz as a “magnificent, multicultural city”.
The number of fatalities caused by drink-driving have been falling steadily over the last few decades, thanks to numerous public awareness campaigns and advances in safety technology built into modern cars. Nonetheless, 15 percent of all road traffic accidents which resulted in fatalities involved at least one person over the drink-driving limit in 2013, according to government figures.
In the same year, an estimated 260 people were killed on the roads in accidents in which drink was a factor, up from 230 the year before.
A further 1,100 people were seriously injured in accidents caused by drink driving in the same year.
AA president Edmund King pointed out that the FoI figures were not standardised to take into account how conscientious police forces are about carrying out breathalyser tests. More test carried out could respond in more failed tests.
But he added: “You also have to look at demographic factors. We know that the drink-driving laws are very well understood by UK citizens because of having had years of campaigns at Christmas and the summer.
“East Anglia has a lot of manual workers, agricultural workers, from Eastern Europe and they are much less likely to be aware of them and so end up getting behind the wheel after too many drinks.
“The penalties are also much stricter in the UK, which deters people from drink-driving. The severity of punishment is not the same in some European countries. This is likely to be an element.”
His comments echo those made in 2007 by Julie Spence, then Cambridgeshire’s chief constable, who said: “We can identify a significant rise in drink-drive, which was down to people thinking that what they did where they came from, they could do here.”
She added that immigrants’ attitudes to drink-driving were probably what they were in the UK 20 years ago.
The FoI figures show that, in total, 273,070 motorists across the UK were convicted for being over the limit over the last five years, with Croydon in south London topping the cart for the most convictions – 687 during that period.
Boston in Lincolnshire was second worst area, with 598 motorists banned. The town is home to a large Eastern European migrant population; one in six of the town’s 65,000-strong population are foreign-born.
It was followed by Peterborough in Cambridge, where 589 motorists were banned. Nearby Wisbech, where a third of the town’s 30,000 population is from Eastern Europe, rounded off the list with 470 convictions.
Leicester postcodes featured at 4th, 5th and 6th place, with 1545 convictions across the three postcodes combined. Another Leicester postcode featured again at #21 on the list.
The top ten was rounded out by Coventry in the West Midlands (589 convictions), Northampton (474 convictions) and Slough in Berkshire (470 convictions).
The figures record where a stopped vehicle is registered, not where it was stopped at the time of the offence.