Policing council agrees guidelines with NUJ to avoid restrictions on reporting

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has issued guidelines in agreement with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to ensure journalists are respected as key workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Amid headlines about allegations of police forces overstepping the mark, the NUJ has secured a number of guidelines which were formally issued yesterday (March 31st) by the NPCC to ensure law enforcers understand not to send journalists home or restrict their reporting efforts.

The guidelines read: "Police officers are likely to have contact with journalists who will continue doing their job during the Government’s Covid-19 Coronavirus restrictions. The following guidance outlines how this should be approached.

"Journalists are covered as key workers... There is a public interest in keeping the population informed of the developing crisis and subsequent recovery / return to normality... Responsible journalism promotes good community relations and assists the emergency services, which is essential in the current health emergency".

Reasonable expectations are also outlined for reporters too, who are expected to carry their accredited press card at all times when out working, and should conform to Public Health guidelines on distancing and not being in groups.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, said: “It is vital that journalists and photographers are free to report during this crisis, and be out on the streets while doing so. We were pleased with the constructive discussions with the head of the National Police Chiefs Council who is supportive and understanding of the right for media workers to do their jobs. With these rights also come responsibilities, and of course we expect our members to behave accordingly. Press freedom must not be compromised during this period.”