Part 7: Targeting enforcement at risks

New Zealand Police: Enforcing drink-driving laws.

In this Part, we:

  • examine the effectiveness of the Police's strategy of targeted enforcement to deter and detect drink drivers;
  • assess how well the Police collect, analyse, and use information (called intelligence) to target drink drivers, including understanding how the Police identify and target high-risk locations and times; and
  • discuss how the Police balance targeted enforcement and general deterrence.

Summary of our findings

The Police effectively use intelligence, local knowledge, and judgement to target their resources at local risks. The intelligence provided by Police analysts is timely and meaningful. Along with local Police officers' knowledge and judgement, it allows the Police to deploy frontline officers to high-risk drink-driving locations, times, and drivers.

Targeting high-risk places, times, and drivers

Research shows that breath-testing when and where drivers might have been drinking is highly likely to reduce the number of crashes. The Road Policing Programme for 2011/12 describes how the Police carry out their targeted enforcement:

It involves the examination of crash data, recorded offending levels, traffic complaints, and details about repeat offenders and repeat offending. The process requires the collection and analysis of data to produce intelligence which is used for deployment of Police resources based on drink-driving risk.

We saw the Police doing this. International research supports the intelligence-led approach to targeted enforcement as being best practice.

Local tactical assessments help to target risks

At a District level, Police analysts prepare weekly tactical assessments. The tactical assessments are clear, concise, timely, and provide information that is used to plan drink-driving operations.

Generally, the assessments include information on the number and identities of recent drink drivers, the location of drink-driving offences (often mapped), and the number of drink-driving crashes, fatalities, and injuries.

The tactical assessments identify risks that include the likely times and locations (streets and roads, hotels, and sports and cultural events) where drink-driving might be expected to happen. For example, one tactical assessment noted that local university students were likely to be quiet at the weekend because they had exams the next week.

Better targeting enforcement at risks

In the Districts we visited, Police officers were certain that smarter planning would save lives. Road Policing Managers want more information to make better decisions about deployment and improve results.

Police officers told us that they recognised the value of general deterrence but liked "catching drink drivers" because of the risk they pose to others. Many Police officers said that they enjoyed successful targeted enforcement because drink drivers could "drive down the road and kill someone".

We saw evidence of the Police's efforts to improve their ability to deploy resources to risk. For example, an improvement initiative in the Road Policing Programme involves revising the profile of a drink driver to take account of recent and expected changes, such as changes to the drink-driving limit for drivers under 20 years old. The Police are also exploring how they can improve road policing tactics by using a mapping system to overlay crash analysis data and enforcement and ticketing activity.

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