Police and media reviewed
THE NUJ has just sent in its submission to the College of Policing consultation on police-media relations, which recently ended.
Of particular importance - in the light of the controversial investigation into Cliff Richard (a singer) and the filming of the police raid on his home by the BBC from a helicopter following a police tip-off - is suspect anonymity. The consultation proposes that "the police will not name those arrested, or suspected of a crime, save in exceptional circumstances where there is a legitimate policing purpose to do so."
The consultation covers issues around dealing with working journalists covering events at which police are present. Specific points include police cordons and "taking the media on police operations", and ensuring this is done "in a manner which avoids favouritism." Best practice around "media briefings" is also included.
The NUJ submission noted that most journalists in local media have a good relationship with the police. It challenged the guideline stating that "in most cases" communication with the police should go via "press officers or police corporate communications departments."
The Union noted that these have in recent years been filled from the world of PR and marketing and therefore tend to have an agenda of "positive promotion." Having to go through the press office would also hinder journalists working to a tight deadline.
Also noted in the NUJ submission was that it the consultation proposals had very little to say on using social media, increasingly the preferred means of "getting the police message out".
It further noted a "long history of mistrust" between police and journalists, with six NUJ members currently in legal action after it was discovered their "lawful journalistic" activities were the subject of intelligence-gathering by the Met.
The NUJ submission is at www.nuj.org.uk/news/nuj-calls-for-greater-openess-between-the-police-and-press
Watch this space for any guidelines or recommendations emerging from this consultation. Details are linked from www.londonfreelance.org/fl/1607cop.html