Should offenders have their mobile phones seized?

12.00 | 30 January 2017 | | 6 comments

A senior police spokesperson has put forward the idea that people caught using a mobile phone while driving should have their device seized.

Speaking at the Roads Policing Conference 2017, PC Jayne Willetts, the Police Federation of England and Wales’ lead on roads policing, expressed her concern that new legislation coming into effect in a little over a month is already ‘behind the times’.

PC Willetts asked delegates to consider whether the seizure of mobile phones or SIM cards, along with a combination of education and fines, might help combat the problem.

In November 2016, the Government announced it would double the penalties for those caught using a mobile phone while driving. Under the new legislation, which will come into effect on 1 March, drivers will receive six points on their licence and face a £200 fine.

PC Jayne Willetts told the conference: “The increase of the fine to £200 and six points on a driving license will still not be a deterrent to some of the hard-core and conditioned drivers who will continue using their phones while driving.

“The legislation is still lacking for these offenses, and does not take into account the use of phone watches.

“As technology is rapidly progressing, I fear our legislation is already behind the times. Is the seizure of mobile phones or their SIM cards – along with an education system – the way forward, combined with fines? I don’t know, but it’s a question worth asking."

Picture: Police Federation (@PFEW_HQ) via Twitter.

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    For a start, why don’t we just carry out the law as it stands and fine the culprits. No point in furthering the legislation if we “can’t” carry out the current legislation. Just a “box ticking” exercise. How many people have been fined on this legislation and how many “blatantly” get away with it. Percentage wise very very few. I see them, you see them, we “all” see them day in and day out and “nothing” gets done. What a waste of time.

    Jack Cook
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    I see no problem in in the phone being temporarily seized as evidence pending a decision whether to prosecute.

    Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire
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    This is a difficult problem: we all know that drivers deserve to lose their phone if caught using it, but how would it work in reality?

    As has been pointed out, there is the issue of all the data, and all the admin to return the phone, perhaps after a fee has been paid.

    Smashing phones at the roadside looks very appealing, but people will just claim for a new one on their insurance, so aside from the minor inconvenience, there is no additional deterrent. Seized phones are small and will be easy to lose, leading to all sorts of problems for Police.

    I think that we ought to go for seizure of the vehicle being used in the commission of the offence. There is already the process in place to cope with it and it leads to a major and immediate inconvenience. Imagine the reaction of a haulier when their truck is seized – they would certainly be a lot more careful about calling their drivers.

    David, Suffolk
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    Hows about the loss of the phone and get it back by attending a one day course on observations and distractions. This seems to be the way we can educate as well as enforce.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    If offenders were given a choice of having their vehicle or their ‘phone seized, I do wonder how many would rather be without their vehicle than their ‘phone!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Seizure of SIM cards may become data issue once the Police get hold of thousands of SIM cards storing all sorts of data. Get the driver to remove the SIM card and then simpy smash the mobile up on the road. I’ve seen it done in Singapore, very effective if everyone knows. All they lose is an expensive phone and the need to get a new one.

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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