Force tries to draw a line on Facebook page putting police `bad driving` in social media headlights

A force has reacted to dismiss claims that it is behind complaints to Facebook to close down a page on its network highlighting poor parking and bad driving by police officers.

Sep 27, 2017

A force has reacted to dismiss claims that it is behind complaints to Facebook to close down a page on its network highlighting poor parking and bad driving by police officers. Cambridgeshire Constabulary says it has not been possible to identify the `guilty party` after a vigilant group has reportedly twice found it necessary to change the name of the social media page before messages alleging “victimisation of the police” stopped. The `Unmarked police cars of East Anglia` page is the third incarnation – which now has more than 2,000 followers and receives up to 125 videos a week. The one-off site unashamedly includes photos of officers allegedly speeding in unmarked lorries to catch drivers on their mobile phones, falling asleep while parked on double-yellow lines and swerving dangerously across motorway lanes without their `twos` on. Private messages sent to the site`s administrator, said: “Your page has been brought to our attention regarding the contents. We believe it`s unfair… the contents could lead or be misinterpreted as victimisation of the police.” The man, who asked only to be named by as Mike, said: “To be fair I was a little bit intimidated because I was getting told to shut page down and thought is it something illegal so I backed down 100 per cent and the page came down in three days.” The page was initially taken down in 2015, but similar messages were sent after a new Facebook page was set up entitled `Unmarked cars in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire`. Mike said he took that page down two days later after receiving more messages claiming he was “victimising” police from Facebook`s administration team. He said: “Their amicable solution was the page comes down end of story. I then made the three counties one and they said `no`, and I said `fine`, I`ll take legal advice and make a regional one.” Mike says the messages have now stopped after he then created the current Facebook page, `Unmarked police cars in East Anglia` encompassing forces in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. The page`s administrator, who works full-time and is from Cambridgeshire, says he and a team of three people run the site as volunteers. He believes he has caught officers commenting on the page. He also posts videos taken from his own dash cam on his vehicle, claiming he does not use footage that has been taken illegally and conducts checks on submitted videos of unmarked police vehicles against his database of around 80 self-confirmed registration numbers. “As far we can make out we are the only page that does it,” he told the Daily Mail. He said: “We were tempted to change the name to `Policing of the Police`,” before adding: “We live in a society where Big Brother is watching everybody so why shouldn`t the police be watched. “The page and what we are doing, it`s not the victimisation of the police force in any way shape or form – 99 per cent of them do a good job. But there are some that don’t and it is right they are held to account like any other road user.” Asked by Police Professional who might have complained about the page, the force said it “couldn`t find out” that information, adding: “It could have been any officer, member of the public or Facebook themselves.” A spokesperson from Cambridgeshire Constabulary added: “We have a complaints mechanism in place which we would encourage any member of the public to use should they need to. “We welcome public scrutiny and all complaints made through official channels will be investigated.” The force was at pains to stress that the law, as defined in statute by the Road Traffic Act 1988, prohibits both police officers as well as the public from dangerous and careless driving. Officers must exhibit the care and skill of a competent and careful driver, the force added, deferring to a 2009 High Court ruling from the case R v Bannister EWCA Crim 1571. It also points out that officers are regularly expected to attend immediate response calls

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