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Crafty cops set phantom speed traps on Waze – and drivers are slowing down

If you use the Google-owned navigation app Waze, you’ve probably tapped your break pedal once or twice after seeing after seeing the police officer icon on the map.

The crowd-sourced data provided by fellow drivers can be handy in helping you avoid those seeing flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror if you’ve been driving a bit too fast. However, now the fuzz are turning the tables.

Police in Surrey have admitted laying fake speed traps using Waze, in tweets spotted by The Guardian, and drivers are slowing down as a result. “We definitely don’t drop Police markers on Waze at random points on our patrol, nope – never” the force’s Roads Policing unit wrote on Twitter accompanied by the winking emoji.

The tweet, which remains live, referred to the tactic an “easy way to get drivers to slow down on our roads” and actually thanked Waze for including it in the app. When the obviously outcry from the Twittersphere followed, the officer running the account pointed out that the markers were “technically not false” because the units “are there at that very specific point in time”.

Well played.

Indeed, there’s nothing on Waze that mandates the police traps have to be stationary, the account pointed out. Still, that hasn’t stopped Twitter users citing the Computer Misuse Act and accusing the police force itself of filing false reports. The tactic might be short-lived as, the Surrey Police force itself has issued a statement saying it has not endorsed its use.

The statement reads: “While officers used this application to deter dangerous driving on our roads, this is not a tactic or policy endorsed by Surrey Police. Innovation and technology will always have a part to play in keeping our communities safe but, although well-intentioned, we know this has caused concern and undermines the trust the public has in us. Media coverage has claimed “phantom” units have been created. This is not the case. Technology has not replaced the presence of officers on our roads. We’re currently reviewing and addressing the use of this tactic.”

Are the Surrey road cops justified in turning the tables, considering the feature is ostensibly there to outfox them in the first place? Let us know @trustedreviews on Twitter.

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