HC Deb 12 April 1984 vol 58 c518
9. Mr. John Townend

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has received since December 1983 about the operation of the law relating to the stopping of motorists by the police and taking breathalyser tests.

Mr. Hurd

Since 1 December 1983 we have received 32 representations about the powers of the police to stop motor vehicles and to require breath tests and a further 68 letters commenting on the Lion Intoximeter 3000.

Mr. Townend

Is the Minister aware that in some parts of the country the police are using the Road Traffic Act to carry out a policy of random breathalysing? Is he aware, for example, of an incident just before Christmas in which the police set up what amounted to a road block just outside the town of Hornsea in my constituency and that motorists were stopped regardless of whether they had committed a moving traffic offence? One man was breathalysed as he went for his evening meal and again when he came back. Of the 30 breathalyser tests carried out, only four were found to be positive. Is that not,against the spirit of the Act, as Parliament did not intend to have random breathalysing?

Mr. Hurd

The police have a wide power to stop vehicles under section 159 of the Road Traffic Act. Broadly speaking, an officer can ask a motorist to take a breath test if he has reasonable cause to believe that the driver has caused a moving traffic offence, has alcohol in his body or that the vehicle has been involved in an accident. If my hon. Friend's constituents have complaints that the police went beyond those powers, there is a procedure for investigating such complaints.