IT'S GOOD NEWS

Do as I say, not as I do

10 October 2016 | Lloyd Hughes

Anti-drink driving campaigns are essential.

Back in the day it was seen as socially acceptable to drink and drive. A few pints in the local after work on a Friday followed by a three-mile drive home? No problem. Three miles isn’t far, after all. What’s the worst that can happen? If you put your car in the ditch, we’ll just get it out in the morning.

20 to 30 years ago, no one would bat a proverbial eyelid at this. But things are – rightly – different nowadays. Anyone seen stumbling up to their car to drive home would more than likely be reported, possibly confronted or at the very least frowned upon.

I remember one of my friends talking about someone he knew who, after about 15 pints, thought nothing about getting in his car and driving home. He happened to be telling an anecdote about this in front of someone who would generally be considered to be a bit of a local scallywag. His emphatic reaction to the tale was to simply comment: ‘What a c**t.’

Now, for someone with seemingly loose morals (when it comes to certain things at least) to so strongly condemn the action is undoubtedly what these campaigns help to promote (although ideally with less expletives).

It has become unacceptable.

The main reason for this has been concerted anti-drunk driving campaigns over the years which have painted the practice in such a poor light. Now, the majority of people recognise that it’s not just your own life you’re risking, but those of everyone around you.

So it’s important this outlook is maintained, which means it’s regularly reinforced, with police forces and other local authorities all over the country carrying out Christmas campaigns every year.

They often get a member of the local police force to front the push and Surrey police was no different, choosing PC Matthew Hall for the job.

It’s recently been reported, however, that the so called ‘poster boy’ of the anti-drink driving campaign has himself since been convicted of drinking and driving. 

After having ‘two cans’ after work, he got in his car, drove and was subsequently pulled over by two colleagues.         

Now, on the one hand, this is bad PR for the police. “See even the police do it,” will no doubt be some moron’s justification. But on the other, it does show that no one, not even the law’s enforcers, are above it.

It also suggests that officers don’t baulk at bringing their colleagues to justice when they do break the law, which is certainly a good thing.

So this is a mixed PR bag here. Bad PR for the officer, the police force and the person who chose him to front the campaign, but good PR in that it shows the consequences of drink-driving apply to one and all.

No doubt he's mortified and his bosses are furious, and rightly so. A cautionary tale.