Industry Bodies Warn Police Guidance Links Journalists With Corruption

Secret guidance issued by the College of Policing to all police forces in England and Wales risks equating the media industry with wrongdoing and corruption, industry bodies have warned.

In a letter to the College of Policing, the Society of Editors and Crime Reporters Association said that the inclusion of “journalists” within a secretive “notifiable associations” section of the College’s APP counter-corruption guidance risked equating the media profession with the wrong-doing and corruption journalists sought to uncover and should be dropped.

The News Media Assocation is gravely concerned by the guidance and is calling for the College to remove journalists from the “notifiable associations” list. 

The APP guidance is issued to all forces in England and Wales and although the guidance on counter-corruption is available online, the section on “notifiable associations” is restricted and therefore not open to public scrutiny.

The letter said: “It has recently come to our attention that APP guidance on counter-corruption contains a restricted section on ‘notifiable associations’ that includes journalists within a list of groups that require disclosure by officers in England and Wales in a bid to fight corruption. While the guidance’s implementation by individual forces appears to be fragmented, it is alarming that the guidance’s very existence only came to light following its inclusion within a report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary earlier this year and, as such, it has not been subject to wider discussion or scrutiny.”

Calling on the College to remove journalists from the guidance’s “notifiable associations” list, the Society and CRA said that a successful working relationship between the police and media on behalf of the public was vital and that any decision by the Met to implement the recommendation would set a worrying precedent.

It added: “The media fulfils a vital role in keeping the public informed about the work of the police and alongside bringing offenders to justice and helping keep communities safe, media scrutiny promotes transparency and aids understanding of how police forces across the UK operate. The inclusion of journalists within a ‘notifiable associations’ list in counter-corruption guidance gives the wrongful impression that reporters seek to corrupt or deceive and equates the profession with the wrongdoing and dishonesty that journalists work to uncover.”