Journalists must use the election of police commissioners to hold their local forces to account

I suspect that we journalists are as cynical and uninspired about the forthcoming elections for Police Commissioners as everyone else.
But we need to seize this rare opportunity to hold our police forces to account.

The media have suffered scandalous and often illegal treatment by the police over the past decade.
Ask yourself if you or your colleagues have:

• Been harassed, obstructed or arrested by police as 'terrorists' while taking photos?

• Denied legitimate access to crime scenes?

• Denied basic information about crime, allegedly because of the Data Protection Act?

• Prevented from speaking to victims of crime – even when the victims are happy to speak to the media?

• Not received a basic level of service from the police press office?

• Been treated rudely, or threatened, by  officers or PCSOs while carrying out routine journalistic duties?

• Denied the chance to speak to senior officers rather than the press office?

• Denied access to, and information, about police authorities?

• Not received timely and complete responses to FOIA requests?

The media has lost more ground to the police in the last ten years than any time in history. Police Commissioners probably won't change much.
But we'd be foolish not to grab the opportunity to hold them to account and  to campaign for legal, effective, open, and cooperative media relations to be part of our area's police plan.

Cleland Thom is a consultant and trainer in media law

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