Police urged to respect rights of journalists to cover demonstrations in NUJ training video

Police officers raise their batons as a smoke bomb goes off during a protest in central London. Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

The National Union of Journalists has commissioned a video explaining the rights of reporters and photographers during demonstrations and riots to police officers.

Scroll down to see video.

The film urges police officers to respect the rights of journalists to be at demonstrations pointing out they do not need a permit to film and police do not have the right to seize their film, except with a court order.

It will be included in public order training at the College of Policing and added to the police service knowledge data base to inform good practice, according to the NUJ.

A spokesperson said: “It explains that journalists are there to do a job and, despite the often-challenging situations officers find themselves during episodes of civil disorder, the police should help the press so they can gather accurate information.”

Alfie Moore, a police officer who turned to stand-up comedy during a career break, presents the video, shot by Rob Whitehouse, that will be seen by thousands of officers each year.

Justine Curran, national policing lead public order, said: “Sometimes it’s difficult, officers will be in challenging situations, but they have to remember that the journalists have a job to do as well.

“Their job is to tell the story to all of our communities who are interested in what’s happening; it’s how democracy works in this country so it is very, very important that we support journalists to do their job whilst we’re doing our job.”

Asked for one word to describe the media, officers in the film said it was “controversial”, “challenging”, “different”, “educational”, “negative” and hard work – “and that was the censored version” added Moore.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “Both the police and journalists work often work in challenging circumstances. In a humorous and simple way this film tackles the rights of journalists and photographers covering incidents in public places and underlines how both sides can best engage in a constructive way.

“As Alfie Moore points out in the film, it is all about both sides being able to do their jobs so journalists are able to properly tell the story to their communities.”

Commander BJ Harrington, head of the Met’s Public Order Unit, said: “Working alongside each other on the streets, in fast changing and developing situations on public order events, is sometimes challenging. The police have a job to do, and so do the photographers and journalists.

“By taking part in a police training video, the NUJ have given the police an insight into their work.”

The NUJ has called for an “open and collaborative relationship between the police and the press” in its submission to the College of Policing consultation on draft guidelines for police and media relations.

The union says plans to channel all communication through police press officers will not work.

Picture: Reuters

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