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Guardian: Media face pressure to hand over riot footage to Scotland Yard


News organisations are being pressured into handing over footage of the London riots by the Metropolitan Police ,according to The Guardian.

The paper claimed it was one of several newspapers and broadcasters asked to hand over pictures and video footage of the riots, including Sky News.

Media organsaiations that are resisting attempts to hand over footage also include the BBC, The Times and ITN, according to a report on The Guardian's website.

Media groups were allegedly first approached around a fortnight ago when they were asked to voluntarily pass on the material.

The Guardian claimed the Met has since sent follow-up requests to newspapers and broadcasters and that 'Scotland Yard said it would obtain a court order to force the disclosure if the media did not volunteer material".

Today's report said:

Each of the media groups said they would fiercely resist the demands to avoid being seen as an evidence-gathering arm of the police.

However, the media will be forced to hand over unused material if issued with a production order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Under Pace, the judge is supposed to weigh the interest of the police in obtaining evidence with the public interest in a free press.

A spokesman for the Met told The Guardian:

The police are identifying people through pictures, CCTV and through the media to ensure that people are brought to justice. We would ask the media to work with the police to ensure that happens."

Earlier this month Northern Ireland's main news outlets warned that police demands to hand over footage from July's riots in Belfast were putting journalists at risk, after they were ordered to hand over material by the courts.

In a letter sent to Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Matt Baggott, organsiations including BBC Northern Ireland, the Press Association, Sky News, The Irish News, The Belfast Telegraph and The News Letter expressed concern at the "increased use of indiscriminate applications" to court for access to media material, which "threatens the good relations" between the press and the police.

They added:

Where an application for a production order is necessary, this should be limited to what is necessary and proportionate in the circumstances, and should not be a wide-ranging request seeking many hours of footage from a number of media organisations, which is akin to a fishing expedition.

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