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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Chair Reacts To Tom Winsor's Statement on Wanting to Trawl Police Officer's Private Mobile Phones

8 November 2021

Andy Berry, Chairman of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “Sir Tom, you are of course correct that the behaviour of an officer on and off duty is subject to the policing ‘Code of Ethics’.
“We should all behave with the highest integrity, upholding the law at all times.
“We have more restrictions on private lives than almost any other profession. We accept that, but we cannot accept such a massive invasion of our private and family life, our rights under Article 8 of the ECHR.
“Nowhere else could there be such an assault on privacy without at least a suspicion of wrongdoing.
“Sir Tom I don’t defend or condone the actions of some officers who share vile material but let’s keep the scale of the problem in proportion.
“Maybe a few dozen cases within a total police workforce of a few hundred thousand officers and staff. Some of those cases are vile and deserve nothing but the harshest rebuke but some are just stupid and most of the public would be surprised that some of the cases even warrant investigation.
“The point is, though, that what Sir Tom suggests is utterly disproportionate. A sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“Sir Tom what you propose is also completely impractical. As a police service we can barely deal with interrogating electronic devices as part of our current crime investigations. I know of cases in my own force where it is taking many months to download the mobile phone of a sex offender who is thought to have offended again.
“Should we put all those cases to the bottom of the pile?”
Andy added: “Sir Tom, you cannot improve the behaviour of a few officers by treating the overwhelming majority like they cannot be trusted, by taking away their rights, by treating them like some pawns of an old eastern block dictatorship.
“Sir Tom - think again.”
The Police Federation of England and Wales said: "Police officers are subject to the law, like anyone else. Random checks of their personal phones for nothing more than a fishing exercise would be excessive, disproportionate and unlawful.
“Police officers deserve to have a private life."