The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) says that press reports at the weekend claiming that officers had been instructed to seize mobile phones at all road traffic collisions are incorrect.
It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone at the wheel, but the law is widely ignored, despite calls from road safety organisations for police to step up enforcement.
Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, who is responsible for roads policing at ACPO, was widely reported at the weekend to have told officers to take possession of mobile phones after a crash.
But in a statement published on the ACPO website, she said: “At no point have I issued guidance to officers to seize mobile phones from drivers at the site of every road traffic collision.
“It is fair to say that we as a service are looking at ways of making officers and drivers more aware of the difference between the offences of driving while not in proper control of the vehicle - which is a distraction offence - and driving while using a mobile phone.
“Part of this process involves making sure officers know the best means of using information within a driver’s mobile phone when building evidence for a successful prosecution, such as finding from call or text logs if the phone was in use at the time of an incident.
Currently, mobile phones are seized in incidents where someone has been killed or injured, and Chief Constable Davenport confirmed that would not change.
“It has been standard practice to seize mobile phones from drivers at the scenes of very serious collisions for some time as part of the information and evidence gathering process, but it is not now, nor will it be, standard practice to seize phones from drivers after every collision,” she said.
“Drivers must continue to be aware not only of the risks posed by being distracted by mobile phones while in control of a car, but the serious penalties which they will face if they are caught. We are unequivocal in our determination to keep all road users safe.”
Earlier this month, Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said that the government was seriously considering a suggestion from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to double the number of penalty points for using a hands-free mobile phone while driving from three to six.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.