Have we a right to report?

EACH year the London Freelance Branch holds one of its monthly meetings in the House of Commons, and this year's meeting on Monday 13 March is set to be an exciting one - with controversial copper Brian Paddick in debate with NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear, and an opportunity for members to put their own questions.

The subject of the debate in March's meeting will be police relations with journalists. This has been an especially sensitive topic of late, with photographers in particular reporting continuing problems with police restricting access to events they need to cover, or preventing photographers from doing their job at all. (A Policing Incident Report Form can be found at www. londonfreelance.org/policing) The March debate is a chance to share some of your experiences of this and discuss what can be done.

There has been a series of meetings between Paddick and NUJ freelance organiser John Toner, together with the British Press Photographers' Association, on issues around police treatment of journalists in "public order situations". Discussions are now underway on new guidelines for police dealings with journalists, being drafted by the Met in conjunction with the City of London and British Transport Police.

Brian Paddick was the senior Met spokesperson during the televised daily press briefings immediately after the bombings on 7 July last year. His current responsibilities include territorial policing, Community Support Wardens and the "Safer Neighbourhoods" scheme. He recently announced that he plans to retire this December, possibly to follow a career in politics.

And while we're on about policing: if you come by bike, don't chain it up anywhere near Parliament.

  • See further details on the Branch diary page. The next issue will include a discussion of policy questions that Members might address.
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