Top cop calls for press to be more sensitive

The media and police must continue to work together if serious crime
is to be reported responsibly and sensitively, a senior Scottish
policeman has said.

Speaking at the seminar, Strathclyde Police
detective superintendent Alex McAllister told Scottish editors “your
impact is substantial” when dealing with particularly violent and
horrific stories.

He urged the press to consider the victims of crime and their families.

“The
media can have a crucial effect on people’s real lives,” he said.
“While it’s my belief the press generally acts responsibly, there are
times when the line is crossed.”

He referred to examples when he
felt newspapers had behaved with unnecessary insensitivity, such as
publishing intimate or invasive details about the victim, or using
“highly distressing”

terms such as “mutilation” when describing a murder.

“We all like to push boundaries,” he said, “but sometimes we can be damaging the rest of someone’s life by doing that.”

The superintendent’s pleas were echoed by David McKenna, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland.

He
called for representatives from the press, police and affected bodies
to sit down together and come up with “some code of practice” whereby
the best interests of the victim were served.

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