'Totalitarian' police tried to stop reporter Tweeting

A police force has been accused of acting like a ‘totalitarian’state after an officer tried to stop a Bedfordshire on Sunday reporter tweeting from the scene of a rooftop drama.

Bedfordshire Police has since apologised over the incident, which began when the paper’s news editor Keeley Knowles was passing Bedford Hospital and saw a man on top of a building.

According to the paper, Knowles put a news story up on bedfordshire-news.co.uk and then began writing ‘informed updates on Twitter”.

She was then reportedly approached by a PSCO and ‘taken to an officer who she says made it clear he wanted her to stop tweeting before telling her she’d be ‘spoken to in due course'”.

‘I was doing my job providing updates, nothing ill informed, just responding to people asking what was going on,’said Knowles.

‘I was made to feel as if it was my tweets that were encouraging people to come down and that the police were having some ‘operational problems’.”

A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police told the paper: ‘During the first few weeks of training officers are given a talk about the media and how it works. We have a good working relationship with the local media and it is unfortunate that in this instance your reporter has had a negative experience.

‘We know that when dealing with highly sensitive situations it can become extremely stressful. However, we would expect all police officers and staff to be courteous and polite when speaking with journalists and the general public.

‘We are in the process of tracing the officer involved to explain the protocol that should be followed when dealing with journalists at operational cordons.

‘We hope this situation will not reoccur.’

Society of Editors executive editor Bob Satchwell said it was ‘sad’that police officers ‘increasingly seem to think that they have powers which would normally only be associated with totalitarian states”.

BoS editor Chris Gill commented: ‘Tweeting is part and parcel of modern media, and we act responsibly in a professional capacity at all times.

‘We are unhappy anyone should try to prevent a reporter doing their job and will continue to supply our 3,000 plus @bedfordnews followers with updates.”

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