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Naming names: breakthough with the police

Police guidelines on the release of information on accidents are to be changed.

The move follows a meeting between the Society of Editors, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Data Protection Commissioner.

New advice to police forces would provide for a more positive question to be asked by officers when they sought permission from people involved in accidents to release their details.

The police would explain they found it useful to release the information to the media – and it is thought that in many cases this would encourage those involved to agree to the release of details.

Bob Satchwell, director of the Society of Editors described the meeting as a welcome step forward.

He said: “It is clear that many of the problems experienced by editors are not so much about data protection legislation but police operational issues and interpretation of the guidelines that has been too rigid.

“If chief constables and officers down the line take proper notice of the new emphasis in the guidelines we hope many problems will be averted.

“It is important now that editors talk to chief constables and their press officers to encourage them to follow the new advice particularly that which encourages them to be more open.

“They should be encouraged to adopt this new attitude across the board, not just in relation to accidents.”

As a result of the meeting, chief constables are to be reminded of the value of openness and the release of information

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