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Police, Fire and Emergency Management – Random Breath Tests

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 June 2022

Tags: Police, Roads, Community Safety

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, on page 230 of the budget paper No 2, Vol 1, it tells us in 2021, random breath tests more than halved from some 280 000 in the previous year to 120 000. Big drop. Despite this drink and drug driving offenders increased from 4201 to 4259. It seems unusual that the number of offenders who are caught would remain about the same despite a significant reduction in the number of breath tests being undertaken.

Can you give me an explanation for that and is it perhaps, we have reached a point of diminishing returns in terms of random breath test, by implication, there is a level of awareness and education in the community?

Mrs PETRUSMA - In regards to random breath tests, we have also had the impact of COVID 19. That did impact the amount of random breath tests undertaken. The police now are using a lot of, what is called, intelligence led policing, there are more targeted campaigns and more targeting of offenders, but I will ask the commissioner to provide further information.

Comm HINE - Thank you. Road safety and road policing is an absolute critical area of policing, as we all know. I will hand over to Mr Higgins in a minute. Our strategy has changed as in the number of RBT's compared to the number of offenders.

We have to make sure we have the right mix, because we have a lot more targeted patrols now about pulling people over, rather than having a high profile RBT, but we understand we need both.

Some of the reporting Government services and the surveys we do, we still seem to be high in relation to those people who admit. This is a survey done over the phone to people who admit driving whilst they consider themselves over limit.

We are higher than the national average and that is a concern. There is still a number of people that admit to driving without their seatbelt and that is higher than the national average. We have an education piece still to go, because we know that it is a joint responsibility for keeping our roads safe. As you would see in the figures, the number of drug drivers is of a great concern.

I will hand over to Mr Higgins, just to go through the random breath tests, and answer that and why that is

Dr WOODRUFF - Why are we still getting the same number of offences, but much reduced number of RBT's.

Asst Comm HIGGINS - Back in 2019 20, we changed to a more targeted approach of drink and drug drivers and what that did was yield similar results to the static sites.

The benefit of large static sites is, is that it changes the driver perception of being caught. It increases that. The challenge we have over the last couple of years, particularly with COVID 19 and more so because of COVID 19, is with the Work Health Safety issues that arose with COVID 19, we were not able to do those large sites.

Yes, we changed the strategy before, but we were not able to change that back to our large static sites, and that has been shown through there.

Essentially, you could probably argue, over the last decade, we have had similar results on our outputs, but we are losing a lot of people on our roads. Sadly this year has a horrific year with 28 lives lost so far. This is why we are moving to dedicated road policing services and we will reinstate. We have, and you will have seen that over the last four weeks, our large static sites.

Trying to change that driver behaviour, that perception of being caught and trying to change this culture of driving we are experiencing post COVID 19 where thereare probably more aggressive behaviours, taking more risks. This is not just in Tasmania, and has been seen, particularly, in two or three of the other states. They are not able to explain why there has been this massive change in road behaviour, but the reality is, it is. We need to do something different and we will be.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. I did not quite understand. What I interpret, from what Commissioner Hine said and what you said, is there has been a change of approach in where you have RBTs, and so you are doing less of them, but you are being more effective in how you are placing them. Sort of resourcing for effectiveness in terms of identifying people who are driving under the influence. Would that be a correct summation?

Asst Comm HIGGINS - Yes, absolutely. But they are not large sites we are doing, so they are targeting drivers, drink drivers.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay. Can I have a second question, Chair?

CHAIR - You've had three already, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - That was one question and that was just to clarify him.

CHAIR - I don't think so. You were asking three separate questions.

Dr WOODRUFF - Chair, I don't -

CHAIR - I am not going to argue. I am going to pass to Mrs Alexander.