CIoJ PRESS RELEASE
9 JANUARY 2012
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has written to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, urging caution against over-zealous application of the Filkin report recommendations on socialising with journalists.
Amanda Brodie, chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board, said: “We welcome large parts of the report which urges a more open and transparent connection with the media, but the way in which this is achieved should be left to the officers involved with the case. Restrictions on where, when, how or why contact is necessary do not need to be dictated.”
She added: “The report contains some advice to officers such as: ‘The offer of a pint of beer…… will usually be declined.’
“Instead the officers should meet reporters at the police station, and it encourages them to have a member of the police press office, or another officer present when possible. They are being told to keep a note on any conversation they have with a journalist, and these records will be audited on a random basis.
“The connection between journalists and the police needs to bear all the hallmarks of a good relationship. This simply cannot be achieved in the sterile way of procedural formality. The informal basis for contact has worked for many years and served both the media, and the police, well. The ‘loose tongues’ syndrome works both ways and many officers have benefited from the information exchange.
“The fear from our point of view is that the restrictions that seem to be advised will, in our opinion, work against the very principles that Filkin urges; more open and transparent dealings with the media.
“The police themselves use a system of informants which is unregulated, to get information they need. It seems unfair for them to seek to restrict any similar legitimate practice employed by the media.”
Note to Editors
• Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.