NUJ calls on police forces to adopt crime scene guidelines

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."

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