Essex Police made a record number of drug driving arrests last year - stopping more drivers than in 2017 and 2018 combined.

In total 1,844 arrests were made in 2019.

It comes as 169 people were arrested in December following the launch of the force's anti-drug driving campaign.

In 2017 the force made 754 drug driving arrests and in 2018 that number rose to 1,039.

Inspector Rob Brettell, from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “What these numbers show is that if you drug drive in Essex you’re more likely to be caught than ever before.

“There will be a number of those arrested over the course of 2019 who won’t have felt impaired and may have last had drugs 24, 48, 72 hours before being stopped.

"The fact is drugs stay in your system and just because you don’t feel stoned doesn’t mean you’re not over the drug driving limit.

“And as many of those who’ve been arrested will find out – if you’re convicted of drug driving it means you’ll lose your licence and that could have knock-on affects of losing your job and even your home.

“Is the high worth that low?

“What we’ve tried to do through our innovative anti-drug driving campaign is to raise awareness of the issue and educate the public about it.

“It took decades of campaigning to make drink-driving a social taboo so we know this won’t be a quick fix but we are committed to tackling this issue.”

December saw more than 400 drink or drug driving related arrests with 173 drink driving arrests and 61 failing to provide a specimen arrests adding to the drug driving arrests.

Inspector Brettell added: “Drink driving continues to be a significant issue across the county and continue our efforts to take drink drivers off the road.

“That figure also represents a lot of targeted and proactive work, acting on information and intelligence from members of the public, to identify drink drivers and get them off the road.

“We need people to make sensible decisions about whether or not to get behind the wheel because the consequences can be catastrophic.

“Our work to tackle both drink and drug driving never stops as this is an issue that is not going away.”

Caroline Churchouse from the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, said: “This is just the start of our work to educate drug-users about the dangers of drug-driving. We knew we needed a different approach and our campaign certainly got noticed and generated conversations amongst our target audience.

“A quarter of fatal collisions in 2019 involved a drug-driver.

"That’s 14 deaths in Essex which could have been easily prevented. Please continue to share our messaging as we enter a new decade, and help us drive down road deaths and serious injuries in our county.”