Three times as many people are being arrested for drug driving than drinking and driving in Bolton.

The borough also has some of the highest numbers for disqualified drivers in the country and is the busiest area for driving issues in the north of the Greater Manchester region, a leading police officer has said.

Speaking at the Transport for Greater Manchester Bee Network committee, chief inspector Michael Parker told members of the increasing prevalence of drug driving.

He said: “Drug driving is a massive problem, it now exceeds drink driving, probably by a three to one basis.

“Drink driving is now socially unacceptable.

"It took a long period of education to get to that. But we’ve not a that period of education for drug driving yet.

“You’ll stop people in the streets and as them if they’ve had a drink and they’ll say ‘no I don’t do anything like that – I just smoke weed’. Cannabis stays in the system for a lot longer.

“It will stay in the system and affect someone’s ability to drive for seven days – cocaine is a couple of days.

"Drug driving is more of a serious problem than drink driving now.”

In relation to Bolton and its issue with errant driving, Chief Insp Parker said: “Over the last 18 months there has been a large uplift in road policing.

“There are now 50 more dedicated officers and there has been a decrease in fatal incidents against a national increase.

"That is not coincidence it’s by more officers enforcing traffic regulations.

“We’ve got a new base in Whitefield covering the top end of Greater Manchester. Bolton has been identified as being one the highest generators of road policing demand.

"It has one of the highest populations of disqualified drivers in the country so there has been a lot of work to remove high risk drivers from our roads.”

At meeting of the full council in Bolton this week, Cllr John Walsh spoke of his concern at the chief inspector’s comments.

He said: “He told the committee that since the opening of the new police neighbourhood traffic centre at Whitefield, covering Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and North Manchester, the highest number of traffic issues had been in Bolton.

“Members were further told that Bolton had one of the highest percentages of disqualified drivers, and that drug driving offences outnumbered drink driving offences by a ratio of three to one.

"I think we all should be concerned at this stark information.”