Editors questioned police guidance, which they claim links journalists with corruption and “equates them to the wrongdoing that they work to uncover.” Sanchia Berg, BBC writes.
According to the National College of Policing Guidelines, officers must declare their relationships with journalists just like they do with convicted criminals.
The Society of Editors said journalists shouldn’t be listed on a “notifiable association” list.
These guidelines were only made public earlier in the year.
The Society of Editors wrote to the College of Policing, an independent body of the Home Office. It expressed concern that the guidance was only made public after being referenced in the report of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constables (HMICFRS).
The report includes footnotes that indicate that the anti-corruption guidance was in place since at least 2015.
The report examined the findings of Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. This panel was charged with investigating the relationships between corrupt officers, private detectives, and journalists in the unsolved case of a private investigation.
The panel’s last-year findings of “institutional corruption” led to the inspectorate being highly critical of the Metropolitan Police’s current anti-corruption policies. They were compared with College of Policing guidance, which is known as Authorised Professional Practice.
It stated that the Met Police’s approach to “notifiable association” was outdated.
These connections include people with unspent criminal convictions or officers who were dismissed from police or who are now private investigators.
The Metropolitan Police is currently considering whether or not to follow the College of Policing’s guidelines.
The Society of Editors has around 400 members from UK media.
It was stated that removing journalists from the list would allow the media and police to work together for the benefit of the public.
The wider guidance on counter-corruption can be found online. However, the section about so-called notifiable organizations is limited and cannot been viewed by the general public.
According to the College of Policing, journalists play an important role in holding police accountable and supporting them with news stories, including appeals for more information.
The guidance was not meant to hinder healthy relationships between police and media.
Index on Censorship is a campaign for free speech around the world. It stated that it was becoming more concerned that British police were increasingly judging journalists as unsavory or potentially disreputable. This view is more common in authoritarian regimes than advanced democracies.
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