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Surrey defends mobile use of sat nav app during traffic patrols

The Waze app is a navigation and live traffic app which allows users to report driving conditions – including police sightings.

Surrey’s roads policing team has defended the fact that it marks police presence on the app while driving, rather than simply highlighting stationary officers – saying “every little helps”.

The app is designed to warn other users about road traffic conditions – including traffic jams and accidents.

Police locations are generally reported for stationary officers – such as those operating speed traps.

However, Twitter users have responded with criticism to a tweet from the team that said: “We definitely don’t drop police markers on Waze at random points on our patrol, nope – never,” accompanied by a wink face emoji.

The tweet continued : “An easy way to get drivers to slow down on our roads – thanks @waze.”

The force has now been accused of misleading drivers but has responded saying that the tactic “works perfectly”, and encourages drivers to slow down.

The verified Twitter account stated that its location alerts are “technically not false” as officers “are there at that very specific point in time”.

It added: “Nowhere on Waze does it say the patrol has to be stationary.”

Markers would be removed from the app once other users report that it is not there – Surrey has said it they tend to remain up for “around 10-20 minutes”.

AA president Edmund King said the “real issue” underlining Surrey's use of Waze is “the huge reduction in cops in cars”.

Home Office figures show the number of full-time equivalent roads policing officers in England and Wales has fallen by 22 per cent in the past seven years, from 5,237 in March 2015 to 4,102 in March 2022.

Mr King added: “We know that speed camera signs and interactive smiley face signs do affect driver behaviour and slow some drivers down.

“The use of police markers on Waze to indicate a police presence is just the modern day equivalent of a speed camera sign.

“With five deaths per day on our roads, it is difficult to argue with police tactics that potentially slow drivers down and save lives.

“Law-abiding motorists have nothing to worry about.

“Ultimately we would like to see more cops in cars to reduce broader crime but in the interim the police must do what they can to make roads safer.”

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