More than half of drink-drive arrests are foreign nationals

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FOREIGN nationals made up more than half of the drink-drive arrests in South Holland in 2011.

The shocking extent of the drink-drive problem among the predominantly Polish, Latvian and Lithuanian population of the district came to light after a Freedom of Information request by the Spalding Guardian.

Lincolnshire Police says that of 122 arrests last year, 63 were of non-Brits.

However, road safety campaigners are not surprised as they are battling against language and cultural barriers to get the message across that driving while under the influence of alcohol is not acceptable.

John Siddle, of Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, said: “On the whole, the Great British public are now aware that drink-driving is socially unacceptable and that the consequences of getting caught can include losing their jobs, homes and even their family. For a professional driver to get caught drink-driving is work suicide.

“But, from anecdotal evidence we are being told that drink-driving isn’t frowned upon in some other Eastern European countries as it is here, so we are battling against a cultural as well as language barrier to get the message across.”

In the autumn of last year, figures showed that across the whole county, 32 per cent of drink-drive arrests were foreign nationals, but Mr Siddle said that actually all but two of those were from the South Holland area.

He added: “As a result of those findings we launched a campaign to place leaflets in shops and add foreign languages to road signs and that work is still ongoing.

“We are making progress and the message is getting out there but it is going to be a slow change because of these problems we are facing, including the fact that many of these foreign nationals have committed other crimes in their own country.

“A lot of foreign nationals are coming here and abiding by the law and forming new lives for themselves but some of those who come here are the dregs of society in their own country and there is nothing to stop them coming here and committing crimes, including drink-driving.

“We are finding that a lot of these foreign national drink drivers have other crimes on their record.”

But Mr Siddle said the partnership’s campaign to educate foreign nationals about the dangers of drink driving had received a lot of support from those communities, with shopkeepers displaying leaflets and foreign newspapers published in the UK taking up the story.

He said: “Our efforts haven’t stopped and we are still looking for other avenues to get the word out there to these people.”

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