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Fed airs WhatsApp warning as Met issues 29,000 new smartphones

Social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook and TikTok cannot be accessed on the 29,000 new smartphones provided by the Met to frontline officers and staff.

The Met Police Federation has urged officers not to use WhatsApp, despite the messaging service being exempt from the social media ban now applicable to all new smartphones handed out by the force.

Ken Marsh believes the move is a wise one overall, but questions the wisdom of continuing to use WhatsApp in the current climate.

Speaking in the latest issue of the Federation's magazine, London Beat, he said: "If you're on a WhatsApp group and someone sends a message through and the wording is not right or something is incorrect.

"What should you do? Should you report it immediately to a senior officer? And if you report it to a senior officer, if that senior officer does not act immediately, are you to blame for that? We are getting officers in so much trouble for all these sorts of things." 

The Met has now provided around 29,000 smartphones to officers and staff as part of plans discussed by Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley in an interview with London Beat.

Speaking to the magazine's winter edition last December, he said: "For me it seems odd that we didn't [issue mobile phones to all officers] where most forces have. It's a very obvious thing to do and I've given the IT department a pretty brutal timescale to buy and rollout 29,000 phones in six months."

The Met has also provided updated guidance to ensure compliance with the College of Policing Code of Ethics and the Met Information Code of Conduct.

A spokesperson for the force said: "Messaging and collaboration apps are valuable tools that enable our officers and staff to communicate effectively, internally and with our communities across London.

"Providing our people with access to WhatsApp, and other messaging tools, on controlled and monitored Met devices reduces the risk of abuse and demonstrates the trust we have in the majority of our honest and hard-working officers and staff."

According to the Met, the examples of inappropriate behaviour on social media - such as the IOPC's Op Hotton investigation - have been predominantly on personal devices.

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