NMA Highlights Openness Concerns After Police Media Guidance Published

The News Media Assocaition has highlighted concerns around openness and the public right to know about the activities of the police after the College of Policing has published the latest iteration of its Media Relations Guidance today.   

The NMA responded to the College of Policing’s consultation in two detailed submissions, conveying our concern over the retreat from the 2010 version of the Guidance which had reflected the law accurately and encouraged openness. 

The consultation was part of a series of discussions between the police and the press over the course of many years. 

The NMA has highlighted concerns over the deterioration in police relations and the damaging effect of the overly restrictive guidance and practice implemented post-Leveson, including using RIPA powers inappropriately against journalists and their sources.

Some amendments were made to the text of the Guidance in light of the NMA’s submissions, but there are a number of sections in the finalised document which give cause for concern.  For example, it continues to state that the police will not name those arrested “save in exceptional circumstances”, and that identities of people dealt with by way of cautions, speeding fines or other fixed penalties should not be released or confirmed.

A helpful section in the 2010 Guidance on establishing consent to the release of information on victims and witnesses has been jettisoned, the NMA added.  

The NMA will continue to work with the College of Policing to increase openness which benefits the public who have a right to know what is done in their name and encourages confidence in the police.

A meeting of the police-media forum will take place at the National Police Chiefs Council on 20 June, which will provide an early opportunity for discussion of the new Guidance.  

The NMA will seek to ensure that the operation of the Media Relations Guidance is closely monitored, instituting a system whereby examples of police misinterpretation and other problems can be quickly reported and corrected.