Road Safety News

Police use Twitter to 'name and shame' drink drivers

Monday 1st December 2014

Police in Sussex and Surrey are publishing the names of drink and drug drive offenders on Twitter (BBC News).

The BBC News report says throughout December police will tweet about people stopped on suspicion of drink or drug-driving, including details of when and where motorists were pulled over for the alleged offences.

Those who are charged with drink or drug-driving offences will then be publicly "named and shamed" as part of the forces' joint campaign.

They are also putting up posters with details of people who were stopped last year, at the place where they were arrested.

Members of the public are also being encouraged to text to the police details of people they suspect of drink or drug-driving.

Additional time is being set aside at Crawley Magistrates' Court in West Sussex from 1 December, to deal with drivers who are arrested.

Sergeant Jane Derrick, head of roads policing across Sussex and Surrey, said: "There is often a delay of a matter of weeks between an individual being charged and them appearing in court.

"But these slots mean those charged with offences early in December could be dealt with by magistrates and banned from the roads in time for Christmas."


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I would not presume to suggest what you do or do not understand.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Am I to understand that when someone named and shamed on Twitter for drink driving is then acquitted, the police will report that on Twitter too, and even apologise?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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Idris, surely you are conflating the issue of police informing the media of police operations that are purely investigatory with those after someone has been arrested and charged as in the case of drivers found with illegal levels of alcohol in their bloodstream.
Rod King

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I see this as yet another example of growing police arrogance, as reported many times in recent years, and severely criticised by formr Police Minister Nick Herbert, current Home Secretary Theresa May and very recently a Chief Constable writing about the danger of a Police State. Another recent example was the police telling the BBC in advance of their raid on Cliff Richard's home.

I do not believe that it is any part of the police remit to publicise arrests in Twitter or any other social media.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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There is a general situation in which people arrested for crimes and meeting the expected levels of evidence before such arrest are in fact reportable in the media for having been so arrested.

Only in exceptional circumstances are the names of people arrested kept anonymous. I understand that no such anonymity exists for those charged with drink driving and hence can see no reason why this cannot be reported in the media by newspaper, radio, TV or even Twitter.

Can you give any special reasons why those charged with drink driving should be treated any differently than say shoplifting?
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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It's not about anonymity - it's about Trial by Twitter. The ICO made the position clear in the case of Staffs police.
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

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Whilst those arrested for excess alcohol in their bloodstream may well be "innocent until proven guilty" I have not seen any justification for singling out this class of criminal offence for anonymity between arrest and conviction. I look forward to being enlightened!
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Many thanks Nick - it's clear that the ICO had an reassurance from Staffs Police that they would no longer use hashtag #DrinkDriversNamedOnTwitter in future campaigns - otherwise they would leave themselves open to action. I don't know if Sussex/Essex police are planning to make the same mistake as Staffs.
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

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Politicians have been banging on about “British values”, whatever they are, recently but might those values include what British justice used to be? How about “innocent until proved guilty”, “judged by jury” and “penalties decided by court”. The Police here are flouting all 3 but, even if the Police “named and shamed” after conviction, they would still be imposing their own penalty irrespective of what the court decided thereby undermining the authority of the court.

There is a saying in engineering: “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”. D/d law and enforcement wasn't broken in the past but there have been many changes and more are proposed. Naming and shaming is likely to further damage the reputation of the Police so this policy may well be ill-advised. Drink driving is dangerous so we need more traffic Police to enforce the d/d laws we currently have, like was done in the past.
Dave Finney, Slough

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In the end the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) didn't take action against Staffordshire Police:
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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"An investigation was launched after Staffordshire Police decided to publicly name 86 people who had been charged with the offence on the social media site – before they had been convicted.

Now the Information Commissioners Office, an independent authority which protects data privacy, has warned the force over its actions.

It found officer had broken the rules by implying a presumption of guilt – after using the hashtag ‘#drinkdrivers’ alongside names of those charged."

The (Stoke) Sentinel, 25/01/14
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

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Staffordshire police did this last year and got in to trouble as a result - being charged with an offence isn't necessarily the same as being convicted. Why don't the Police wait until after conviction?
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

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