Report: All contact between police and journalists could become regulated by press officers

Two inquiries are reportedly considering plans to make all contact between police and journalists regulated and recorded by press officers.

The claim was made in an article on guardian.co.uk today, raising the prospect that police officers of all ranks could be ‘prevented from talking freely to the media”.

The proposals are reportedly being considered in two enquiries: one ordered by the home secretary Theresa May looking into allegations of corruption in relationships between the police and the media, and another aimed at drawing up a framework on how ‘officers operate in their contact with journalists”.

The Guardian describes the proposals ‘the toughest clampdown on media relations since Sir Paul Condon launched his anti-corruption drive in Scotland Yard in the mid 1990s”.

Gavin Millar QC, who represented Sally Murrer, the local newspaper reporter accused of encouraging a police officer to leak confidential information, was quoted by The Guardian as saying:

If the effect of all these new rules and injunctions is to curb their willingness to talk to journalists, then it may prevent them revealing malpractice and corruption within the force. It is a very important route out for this kind of information.

Whistleblowers have to make a self assessment of how justifiable it is to speak to a journalist and it is terribly difficult for police officers to make that self assessment about the propriety of what they are considering if they are frightened.

What has happened over the years is it just goes on an unattributable source basis, the journalist is bound by obligations not to reveal their source and no one finds out. That has been the way of the world.

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