Blinkered police vision threatens to undermine press watchdog role

When disaster strikes, as it did on Saturday night on a train line in rural Berkshire, journalists and photographers are the least welcome arrivals to the scene. Particularly by the police called in to make the area safe.

Amid the carnage and confusion, there can appear something ghoulish about asking questions of shells hocked survivors and pointing cameras at the worst of the mayhem.

Journalists in the thick of it, who voice concerns about their deadlines, are often met with withering stares and caustic comments about dead bodies.

But of course there is a very good reason for them being there, as the eyes and ears of the public who have every right to know the details and seriousness of the situation. That’s why it’s disappointing to hear accounts, such as the one on the letter on this page, of photographers being prevented from taking pictures 400 metres from the crash site, on a public path, two days after it happened.

Media scrutiny of serious accidents is often a key motivation that ensures the important lessons are learned from them and that mistakes are not repeated.

Police forces may never welcome such scrutiny with open arms, but they should at least appreciate the vital function it serves.

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