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Suspension of roadside breath tests during Covid-19 (FOI)

Suspension of roadside breath tests during Covid-19 (FOI)

Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 17 September 2021.
Prepared internally, no external costs.


The "Breath tests at road traffic incidents (FOI)" published on 12 March 2021 refers to the senior management team decision to suspend the use of roadside breath test. See link below:

Breath tests at road traffic incidents (FOI)

In respect to this decision please provide additional information:


The formal decision; including text, date and time.


Materials used by the senior management team to arrive at this decision; including documents / emails and dates and times of these.


Manner in which this was communicated to officers; including text, date and time of this communication (email, text, meeting).


In connection with this decision; under what circumstances were officers required to either perform roadside test, or have any suspect transported to either the station or hospital for a test to be performed (breath or blood). (eg, dangerous driving, death, serious injury).


What additional recommendations were made to officers (on the 25 March 2020) in respect to social distancing, PPE (face masks), crime scene management, interviewing, physical contact (suspects or other whilst on duty), collection of evidence.


Where these additional recommendations included in the original communication in respect to roadside breath tests.



The below is a log entry of the initial decision process to consider the withdrawal of the roadside breath test procedure. 

​Silver 24.03.20 – 9​Bronze Ops to look into use of roadside breathalyser machines from an infection control point of view and bring back guidance to Silver ​Bronze Ops​25.03.20

​25.03.20 – Breathalyser and Intoxyliser should not be used unless can be deep cleaned. So blood tests will be used. Changes to policy required and will be  included in guidance for officers.

Message to go to HonPol also;

update to guidance to be given to officers ASAP




This was part of the weekly senior management team meeting to discuss Covid-19 impacts and measures to be taken.


The States of Jersey Police followed much of the UK policing response where it was appropriate for Jersey. The Operation name ‘Talla’ used by the police in the UK was adopted for use in Jersey. Briefing packs were regularly received from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), which were assessed and if appropriate, implemented by the police in Jersey. These information packs were sent under the UK Government security classification code of ‘Official Sensitive’ with the condition that they should not be shared outside of the police environment. To this end, publishing these documents are exempt under Article 26 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011, Information provided in confidence. It is believed however, that no specific direction to cease breath testing was conveyed in these documents. 

The UK Government advice was for Police and other first responders to remain at least two metres apart when dealing with the public. This was passed on by the NPCC. It was accepted that this would not always be possible however, some procedures could be altered to achieve this ‘Best practice’. Performing a roadside breath test was one of these procedures that could be altered using existing legislation, without losing the ability to arrest when drink or drug use was suspected.

Extract from Gov.UK:26

Covid-19: Advice for first responders

Advice for police officers, staff and volunteers

Police officers, staff and volunteers should not be performing clinical assessments. If you are concerned that someone you are managing needs medical assistance, call NHS 111 (or 999 if it is a medical emergency).

Where appropriate, in an operational setting, you should conduct a risk assessment and adopt appropriate precautions for infection control. In the police, this would be a dynamic risk assessment using the National Decision Making model.

For situations where close contact (less than two metres) with a person is unavoidable to fulfil the required duty (for example, when entering a household, carrying out an essential interview or arrest and restraint), the use of PPE as detailed above is recommended. The appropriate PPE for a specific situation needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.


The information for officers to cease performing roadside breathalyser procedure was sent to Inspectors on 25 March 2021 by the then Acting Chief Inspector Craig Jackson. This was then disseminated to all uniformed officers by e-mail and also via shift briefings at the start of each following shift. This was followed on 26th March with more detailed instructions however, the practice began immediately following the instruction of 25 March 2020.

Email from Acting Chief Insp Jackson dated 25 March 2020 (redacted)

Detailed guidance dated 26 March 2021 (redacted)

D, E and F

The instruction was that officers should not carry out any roadside breath tests but should instead follow Article 30(3) of the Road traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 and only arrest if alcohol was suspected on the driver. Arrests should only be made if the offender / suspect was a continued danger to the public or was a flight risk. The position on arrests is highlighted in the States of Jersey police force Covid-19 plan of 16 March 2020.

The States of Jersey police Chief Officer, is a member of the UK National Police Chiefs Council, (NPCC) and the States police followed UK police Operation Talla guidelines where they complimented the Government of Jersey actions. Jersey and the UK had differing timescales for Covid-19 measures and lockdowns, so Jersey police practices did not always match UK police practices but the general principles of policing by the four E’s was adopted. Engage, Explain, Educate, Enforce.

The States of Jersey Police produced a Force Coronavirus plan, which amongst other things, gave officers instruction on social distancing, use of PPE and instructions to only arrest in specific circumstances. The attached extract from the plan, dated 16 March 2020 is attached below:

Force Coronavirus Plan dated 16 March 2020 (redacted)

It can be seen that this document is also restricted for police use only however, this extract has been cleared for disclosure by senior management.

Police staff were updated with weekly briefing messages which included use of PPE.

Articles applied

Article 26      Information supplied in confidence

Information is absolutely exempt information if –

(a)     it was obtained by the scheduled public authority from another person (including another public authority); and

(b)     the disclosure of the information to the public by the scheduled public authority holding it would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by that or any other person.

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