Reader will know of some my adventures with the police, when covering events as a photographer. Have just finished nearly 18months work, in getting talks going between the police and the NUJ. This has resulted in a set of guidelines for behaviour.
So glad to have been a contribution to this. Now, we have to get them addopted around the rest of the country
1. The media has a legitimate role to play in informing the public and they will attend the scene of incidents. The presence of a photographer or reporter at an incident does not of itself constitute any unlawful obstruction or interference.
2. Journalists need to collect information about an incident as quickly as possible. Some of this information may seem irrelevant, unimportant or improper to an officer. However, as long as the journalist does not break the law, or interfere with an investigation, or cross a cordon, the police officer should not impede the reporter. Journalists who break the law will be dealt with in the same manner as any other offender.
3. A crime scene remains closed to the media whilst evidence is being gathered and detailed forensic examinations take place. The reasons for denial of access should be explained to the journalist and access granted as soon as possible with permission from the Senior Investigating Officer.
4. Journalists have the right to photograph and report events that occur on public property. The police may invite journalists on to private property where an event of public interest has occurred and they have the permission of the owner. They should enter peacefully and not cause any physical damage or attempt to alter any details for photographic purposes. The rights of an owner of private property should be respected and may lead to journalists being asked to leave. If the owner of the property does not give permission then any attempt to gain access would be trespass.
5. Any journalist should be able to show relevant media identification if asked. At the scene of an incident this identification should be visible at all times.
6. Police officers should not restrict journalists from taking pictures or asking questions of other parties, even though the officer may disagree with the journalist’s purpose. It is not a police officer’s role to be the arbiter of good taste and decency. It is an editor’s role to decide what to use.
7. Police officers do not have the authority to prevent a person taking a photograph or to confiscate cameras or film, and such conduct could result in criminal, civil or diciplinary action.
8. In the event of a distressed or bereaved individual making a specific request for the media to leave them in peace the officer should pass this information on to the journalist. However, this is advice on which journalists and their editors must base their own decisions. If the situation becomes an identifiable Breach of the Peace then journalists, as any other citizen, have a duty to disperse if asked to do so.
9. Journalists should not park their vehicles in a way that will obstruct other traffic or hamper emergency vehicles or officers carrying out their lawful duty.
These guidelines have beenn sanctioned by Chief Constable Steve Green and the National Union of Journalists.
If you would like more information or advice on a specific issue please call Nottinghamshire Police Corporate Communications on 0115 967 2080
this is from my Indymedia FOI post at:
Police treatment of photographers at incidents
Using the Freedom of Information Act myself, I had to compose a report on my recent adventures, and have posted it up on a couple of my professional NUJ lists.
So, Having taken the trouble to explain this process to fellow photographers, I thought I might share it with you lot also, since police / Indymedia relations at incidents are just as bad. What might get done for change for ‘properly accredited photographers’, may have influence on ‘ordinary photographers’ and ‘us lot’, if I get some the changes I’m pushing for.
So here you are, for your information also. Please check out the story, recounted on these posts:
[Imc-notts-features] Tash on the police http://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/imc-notts-features/2005-October/1011-m8.html
[Imc-uk-features] Police treatment of photographers at incidents http://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/imc-uk-features/2005-October/1013-iy.html
Thus, I may have had an effect on some of the issue of concern to me. I hope you see that it may be useful to you, in pursuit of gathering evidence to argue for your interests also …..
and, there is now further progress …….
From the NUJ NOTTINGHAM BRANCH
This will be our final meeting before the Union’s annual conference, which decides on NUJ policy for the forthcoming year. The Nottingham Branch has much to contribute to the various debates, thanks to your continued support of our activities.
And… our new police/media guidelines have been attracting national interest in the Press Gazette…
Once again, thanks to the hard work of all Branch members who have been instrumental in getting these sorted. Our next task is to get similar guidlelines adopted in all police forces across England and Wales. Already, the NUJ is in talks with the Met, which is a great step forward.
We hope to see you at the Branch Meeting.
NUJ calls on police forces to adopt crime scene guidelines
Published: Thursday, February 16, 2006
By Jon Slattery
New guidelines for police and journalists at crime and accident scenes and other incidents have been drawn up by Nottinghamshire Police and the NUJ.
It’s hoped that they will help prevent potential conflicts between police and journalists. The NUJ wants other forces across the country to adopt the new agreement.
The nine-point guide — contained in a pocket-sized card — has been distributed to all Nottinghamshire Police personnel and NUJ members in the broadcasting, print, PR, photography and freelance sectors.
The guidelines say that “the media has a legitimate role to play in informing the public… the presence of a photographer or reporter at the incident does not itself constitute unlawful obstruction or interference.”
They also state: “Journalists need to collect information about an incident as quickly as possible. Some of this information may seem irrelevant, unimportant or improper to an officer.
However, as long as the journalist does not break the law, or interfere with an investigation, or cross a cordon, the police officer should not impede the reporter. Journalists who break the law will be dealt with in the same manner as any other offender.”
The guidelines say that police officers should not restrict journalists from taking pictures or asking questions of other parties, even though the officer may disagree with the journalist’s purpose.
NUJ Nottingham branch secretary Kevin Stanley said: “We have had countless reports in the past of police officers being at the very least unhelpful to our members, and at worst obstructing them in their job of getting reasonable access to a crime scene and its environs.
“We are now calling on the Association of Chief Police Officers to adopt such guidelines in all police forces.”