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Police chief refuses to budge in row over forms

The chief constable of Essex has responded to complaints by a newspaper publisher that journalists were barred from a police photocall for refusing to sign an indemnity form.

As reported on HTFP earlier this month, the Epping Forest Guardian was refused entry to the photocall at a newly-discovered cannabis farm after refusing to give guarantees on how the material would be used.

Anthony Longden, managing editor of Newsquest’s North and East London division which includes the Guardian series, said the form’s contents were “unreasonable” and wrote to the police asking for further clarification about the incident.

But chief constable Jim Barker-McCardle has reiterated the force’s policy of requiring journalists to sign the forms, and claimed staff in other Newsquest divisions had recently done so.

In a letter to Mr Longden, a copy of which was sent to HTFP, he said the use of indemnity forms had been set out in a series of national guidelines produced by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

“It is the policy of Essex Police to follow these guidelines which are set out in the interests of both the police and the media,” he said.

“I understand that representatives from the media industry including the Society of Editors were consulted on the guidelines before they were put into place.

“No other media organisation has raised concerns with Essex Police about the use of indemnity forms and I’m aware that other media organisations, including Newsquest Essex staff, have signed the forms in order to participate in recent operational activity.”

The indemnity forms ask media organisations to give an undertaking that no material would be used in a way that was “detrimental” to the force.

Mr Longden said the company was making no further comment on the matter at present.


Golam Murtaza (25/11/2009 10:20:23)
In this particular instance the police are behaving like arrogant fools.

Wombat (26/11/2009 10:13:17)
These aren’t those nice Boys in Blue who are trying to win friends with their “batter protesters” image, stopping people taking photos in the street, prosecuting anyone in the vicinity of a major crime, using Big Brother cameras to watch you as you walk the streets, meet contacts and so forth?
Surely not.