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Parliamentary committee calls for police training in role of protest journalists

March 23rd, 2009Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

The UK parliament’s Human Rights Joint Committee has published the following advisory, as part of today’s release of its March 3 session’s minutes:

“Effective training of front line police officers on the role of journalists in protests is vital. Police forces should consider how to ensure their officers follow the media guidelines which have been agreed between ACPO [Association of Chief Police Officers] and the NUJ [National Union of Journalists], and take steps to deal with officers who do not follow them.”

The committee came out in support of journalists covering protests, stating that they are entitled to carry out ‘their lawful business’ and report on how demos are handled by the police free from state intervention, unless this is deemed ‘necessary and proportionate’.

In his evidence to the committee, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear, said guidelines agreed by the union and ACPO were useless, because officers dealing with journalists and protests are not aware of them.

Vernon Coaker MP added that the NUJ has been invited to attend demonstrations with the police to suggest possible changes to procedure.

Evidence was given to the committee last year as part of its inquiry into”

  • the proportionality of legislative measures to restrict protest or peaceful assembly;
  • existing powers available to the police and their use in practice; and
  • reconciling competing interests of public order and protest

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