Two years of hard work by the British Press Photographers’ Association have come to fruition today with new guidelines feing agreed on pow police will deal with photographers covering news events.

As a result of worsening relations between police and press , photographers’ representatives decided to take the initiative and approach the Press Bureau at New Scotland Yard.

Following that first call a joint press-police working group consisting of the BPPA’s Jeff Moore and the CIoJ’s Paul Stewart the Metropolitan Police, was set up. Recently, they invited John Toner, Freelance Organiser of the NUJ to join the group. Their remit was to discuss relations between working Press Photographers and the Police, as it was felt by members of these groups that relations between both sides were at a low ebb.

The terrorist attacks of July 2005 and subsequent arrests, brought matters to a head with many photographers believing the Police had gone in for almost gratuitous obstruction. At the instigation of Stewart and Moore, a meeting was arranged with Toner and Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Brian Paddick, who is in charge of territorial policing for the Met.

Photographers working for photographers

BPPA Chairman, Jeff Moore said, “It is gratifying to see that after almost 2 years of work, these guidelines have been produced by the Metropolitan Police. As they were themselves based on good practice laid down by Staffordshire Constabulary,which were provided to the Met by the NUJ’s John Toner, we look forward to other forces around the country adopting and branding them as their own”.

“It’s important to remember that this was brought about by photographers working for photographers and other members of the profession and we are glad to have taken the lead here”.

As a result of receiving these draft proposals, the CIoJ and BPPA issued to the parties concerned, a draft proposal for guidelines to Media when dealing with the Police. Chair of the CIoJ’s Photography Division, Paul Stewart said, “We were delighted to receive the proposals from Bob Cox and when drafting the Media guidelines, we took great care that these two documents complemented one another”.

“We all work for the public. The police work to ensure law and order, as we work as their eyes and ears. By producing these complementary sets of guidelines we will be able to ensure that, without the media hindering the police in any way, the public are able to exercise their right to stay informed”.

“I cannot speak for the NUJ, but I am sure they would join us in stating that we are more than willing to discuss matters of Police/ Press liaison with any police service in the country and would be pleased to help in the setting up of liaison groups that mirror the one that now exists in London”.

John Toner, freelance Organiser of the NUJ said “This is the result of the three organisations with the Met. It’s a major step forward for photographers and I very hope we can all continue working together”. “Although this process was started for and by photographers the guidelines cover all frontline newsgatherers”.

Guidelines for Metropolitan Police officers and civiliian staff on dealing with media reporters, press photographers and television crews:

‘I believe – and many of you believe – that a key factor in the way we work is how we treat one another and the members of the public with whom we come into contact.’ said Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair.

‘We will build trust by listening and responding. Be accessible and approachable. Build relationships. Encourage others to challenge and get involved.’

  • Our values

Members of the media are not only members of the public; they can influence the way the Metropolitan Police Service is portrayed. It is important that we build good relationships with them, even when the circumstances are difficult. They have a duty to report many of those things that we have to deal with – crime, demonstrations, accidents, major events and incidents. This guide is designed to help you take the appropriate action when you have to deal with members of the media.

Members of the media have a duty to report from the scene of many of the incidents we have to deal with. We should actively help them carry out their responsibilities provided they do not interfere with ours.

Where it is necessary to put cordons in place, it is much better to provide the media with a good vantage point from which they can operate rather than to exclude them, otherwise they may try to get around the cordons and interfere with police operations. Providing an area for members of the media does not exclude them from operating from other areas to which the general public have access.

Members of the media have a duty to take photographs and film incidents and we have no legal power or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict what they record. It is a matter for their editors to control what is published or broadcast, not the police. Once images are recorded, we have no power to delete or confiscate them without a court order, even if we think they contain damaging or useful evidence.

If someone who is distressed or bereaved asks for police to intervene to prevent members of the media filming or photographing them, we may pass on their request but we have no power to prevent or restrict media activity. If they are trespassing on private property, the person who owns or controls the premises may eject them and may ask for your help in preventing a breach of the peace while they do so. The media have their own rules of conduct and complaints procedures if members of the public object.

To help you identify genuine members of the media, they carry identification, which they will produce to you on request. An example of the UK Press Card is shown below.

Members of the media do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places.

To enter private property while accompanying police, the media must obtain permission, which must be recorded, from the person who owns or is in control of the premises. We cannot give or deny permission to members of the media to enter private premises whether the premises are directly involved in the police operation or not. This is a matter between the person who owns or is in control of the premises and the members of the media.

Giving members of the media access to incident scenes is a matter for the Senior Investigating Officer. The gathering of evidence and forensic retrieval make access unlikely in the early stages and this should be explained to members of the media. Requests for access should be passed to the Senior Investigating Officer who should allow access in appropriate cases as soon as practicable.

Advice and assistance in dealing with members of the media is available 24 hours a day via the Press Bureau at New Scotland Yard.

  • The UK Press Card

All the UK’s professional reporters, photographers, and broadcast crews rely on swift public and official help to bring the news to Britain’s homes and business. And every one of them can get a genuine UK Press Card.

The official UK Press Card is an excellent way to identify newsgatherers in the aftermath of a major news event or at any other time. This is guaranteed by the UKPCA’s gatekeepers, who represent all the organisations which employ or represent Britain’s newsgatherers.

At the core of the scheme is a unique photocard and hotline system managed jointly by the gatekeepers. It has a number of security features and is recognised by the Association of Chief Police Officers for England and Wales (ACPO) and by its sister organisation in Scotland, ACPOS.

Each UK Press Card has a unique serial number. Each cardholder has a separate personal identification number or word. By using the hotline – 0870 8376477 – anybody can verify that the card is genuine and that the holder is a bona fide newsgatherer.

The card also has several secret security features in addition to the verification hotline. There are only revealed to the police or similar authorities. The card is produced using similar technology to the photo driving licence, with the photograph and design integrated into the structure of the card.

Every card carries the logo of the issuing organisation or the holder’s employer together with the holder’s name and the card serial number. And no card can is valid for more than two years, ensuring a periodic review of the holder’s right to have it.

  • The UK Press Card Authority

The UK Press Card Scheme has been in operation since the early 1990s. It was set up to provide a single, national identity card for professional newsgatherers, following the abolition of a press card issued by the Metropolitan Police Service. It is managed by the UK Press Card Authority Ltd. A list of designated gatekeepers is available on www.ukpresscardauthority.co.uk or through the Press Bureau at New Scotland Yard.

Guidelines for reporters, photographers and news crews for dealing with police at incidents.

We are the eyes and ears of the public. The role of the police is to act as the law enforcement executive of that same public. It is our role to report on matters of public interest . The police are subject to the same laws as us. This guide has been designed to help you in dealing with the police at the scene of incidents.

1. If asked by officers to identify yourself always be prepared to show your UK Press Card. The police do have a verification line to check this against your press card PIN. It is your responsibility to make sure you know your PIN. It is not necessary to tell police which publication, station or agency you are working for or if you are freelance. However a polite, cheerful conversation goes a long way to promote good relations.

2. If you feel you are being prevented from doing your job in contravention of the police guidelines then show the guidelines to the officer concerned. If this fails to resolve the matter ask to speak to a senior officer or a police press officer if there is one on scene and try to solve any problems that way.

3. If this facility is refused or is unavailable make sure you get the shoulder number of the officer(s) concerned. In the case of senior or plain clothed officers ask for a name and rank. Always remain polite and un-confrontational

4. With the above information contact your desk or your member organisations liaison officer and seek further help.