West Yorkshire Police Federation is urging officers to refrain from posting anything which could potentially be seen as offensive and discussing police operations on these platforms, following two recent rulings.
Last month, the Independent Office for Police Conduct raised concerns about security issues and potential data breaches after it reviewed a case where Metropolitan Police Service officers were using WhatsApp to share operational information and sensitive documents.
The watchdog states that all 43 police forces in England and Wales should review their policies and guidance on the use of WhatsApp and other instant messaging applications
In Scotland, 10 police officers lost a court battle to keep WhatsApp messages secret after they were charged with misconduct.
The officers claimed they had a right to privacy but Police Scotland successfully argued they were entitled to use the messages in disciplinary proceedings.
West Yorkshire Police Federation conduct liaison officer Aaron Horsfall said: “These rulings now show there is no privacy when it comes to shared WhatsApp groups and other social media platforms.
“Officers use WhatsApp all the time, so we must all be mindful of the implications of using it. It’s the sort of thing you might just use or post something when your guard is down or when you’re off duty.
“I would urge officers to be very careful about what they put on their groups because these cases can and do happen. And careers could be on the line.”
He added: "“When you join a team, you’ll be invited to that team’s WhatsApp group, and people can end up posting all sorts of things on there.
“It might be talking about other colleagues or jobs or posting jokes which some people might find offensive. I’m asking officers to try and see the potential problems and think before they post.”