More than double the amount of arrests were made for drink and drug driving offences over the festive period compared to last year, new figures have revealed.

Essex Police has announced the results of its Christmas anti-drink and drug driving campaign, which saw a total of 313 people arrested across the county.

Of these, 140 were arrested on suspicion of drink driving, 139 on suspicion of drug driving and 34 for failing to provide a specimen.

Over the same period in 2017, 148 people were arrested, and Essex Police said the increase in the number of drug driving offences was particularly concerning.

Adam Pipe, Essex Police’s head of roads policing, said the figures should act as a “wake-up call” for the public.

“This is an unprecedented number of arrests for a drink and drug driving campaign period, let alone any other month,” he said.

“To have, on average, 10 people a day arrested for drink or drug driving related offences is frightening enough but I actually think that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

“What is particularly scary is that it seems people are taking a chance because they think they can get away with it. These figures show they can’t.

“I’ve never seen this many people arrested for these offences in one month.

“I hope it acts as a wake-up call and worries the public, because it worries us.”

In 2017 there were 754 arrests for drug driving, compared to 1,039 in 2018 - an increase of more than a third.

For the first time ever, November saw more arrests for drugs relating driving offences than drink.

Mr Pipe said: “I don’t think people are quite grasping the full extent of the danger drug driving poses.

“Our Serious Collision Investigation Unit, which investigates the most serious crashes, has seen a rise in the number of incidents where someone has been killed or seriously injured where drugs are a factor.

“And we also have evidence that drug driving is linked to more serious criminal activity.”

Last year, a study found that 56 per cent of those arrested for drug driving had been arrested before.

Mr Pipe added: “This makes our work to tackle drug drivers even more important. It’s not only making our roads safer, but it’s helping to tackle and disrupt all sorts of other forms of crime.”

Essex Police’s Christmas campaign featured a number of proactive, targeted operations and days of enforcement.

Drink or drug driving should be reported to 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“I believe people in Essex are as disgusted by drink and drug driving as we are. You support the work we do by helping us identify those drivers who are flouting the law.

“This information is invaluable and I want to thank you for it.

“Anyone who calls in with information about a drink or drug driver is helping to make Essex a safer place and I need your support to continue.”

He added: “Our message for 2019 is drive safe, drive sober.”