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The directorate of the Guardia Civil has issued an internal notice stating that the DGT traffic department insist that serving officers must not use their mobile phone whilst driving, as it “gives a bad image”.

Numerous pictures have appeared on internet sites of police officers using their mobiles whilst driving, a legally permitted function for them, as long as it is in line with their duties.

However, given that they now actively enforce the law that carries a 200 euro fine and the loss of three penalty points, it is considered that they must now “lead by example”.

The internal memo, dated January the 23rd, that was sent to the 8,700 patrol officers, prohibits “the use of private mobile phone and its applications in service, unless timely, exceptional or in emergency situations”.

Although not currently enforceable under law, it is seen as an interim compromise whereas if the officers comply and the image of the corps improves, then there would be no further action needed. The DGT have not ruled out presenting a notion in the future to apply the rule as law.

A spokesperson for the Guardia Civil said that, “Mobile phone use is widespread in our society and you cannot prohibit officers from carrying them at work, all that can be asked is that the exercise logic and reasonable use of it”.

Referring to the perceived negative image that the public has, a DGT spokesperson said that that images caught on camera are “isolated cases, and are not general practice. They have, therefore, chosen to “issue this kind of notice before any abusive behaviour degenerates into a disciplinary sanction”.

In addition to the use of mobile phones when driving and on duty, the memo also prevents officers from using their personal mobiles for official business and communication. Applications such as WhatsApp have been shown to be of significant benefit to law enforcement and public safety, even attributing numerous life saving operations to the app, but “these communications must be made through official technical means to ensure their effectiveness and confidentiality”, it states.

One of the principle unions representing the Guardia Civil say that they “do not understand” the reason for the memo, considering that they are “another tool in our work, especially in the XXI century”, which have proven vital “especially in small units, with more limited means, as many officers use their mobile phone to check the weather, for example, key to road safety”.

A second union group however said that it is “just a general warning not to abuse the system”, and that they understand that the mobile can be an element of distraction but also remember that many agents use them for their duties.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/42425/

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