NUJ: handing over riot footage puts journalists at risk

The National Union of Journalists is urging media organisations to resist police calls to hand over unseen footage of last month’s riots.

Earlier this week it was reported that numerous newspapers and broadcasters – including The Guardian, The Times, BBC, Sky News and ITN – had been pressured by the Metropolitan Police into handing over pictures and video footage of the disturbances.

The NUJ has condemned the attempts and urged journalists to ensure police follow the proper procedures to obtain footage.

It warned that police should not use journalists as ‘information gatherers”, which it claimed would place “all journalists at greater risk when covering public order issues and stops sources coming forward”.

‘Covering protests, both nationally and internationally, is already difficult and often dangerous for journalists,’the union said.

‘The danger increases if the images and video gathered whilst reporting events is used by the state. With many accounts of injuries and equipment damage already reported, the calls from politicians to hand-over press material will only increase the risks.’

The Met said it would attempt to obtain a court order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 forcing disclosuure if the media did not volunteer material.

The union said it wants news organisations to make ‘strong representations’to the court to protect the ‘confidentiality of journalistic material and special procedure material under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and under the European Convention on Human Rights”.

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