A call for police disciplinary hearings to be held in public has been made by a trade body representing the regional press.
The News Media Association has called for new legislation after responding to a Home Office consultation on changes to the police disciplinary system.
The NMA said legislation should be introduced to ensure that police misconduct hearings, special case hearings and police appeals tribunals are held in public without exception.
Santha Rasaiah, NMA legal, policy and regulatory affairs director, warned that allegations of police misconduct were “not merely a managerial matter which should be shielded from public view”.
Santha added: “The regional and local press has had long experience of inconsistent practices, which can facilitate deliberate and entrenched secrecy, in the absence of statutory requirements.
“The regional and local press have also had long experience of police forces varying degrees of reluctance to release information to the media and to the public.
“The NMA therefore considers that press and public rights to specific information and the obligations to supply and release information by the police and those involved in the police disciplinary system ought to be clearly set out in legislation and included in the amended regulations.”
The government has admitted public perception of police integrity has suffered in the wake of incidents including ‘Plebgate’, the findings of the Ellison review into the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
An impact statement by the government, which has been welcomed by the NMA, added: “Police disciplinary hearings, police appeals tribunals, and police special case hearings are currently held in private, shrouding them in an unnecessary air of secrecy.”
The NMA was formed by the merger of the Newspaper Society with national press body the Newspaper Publishers Association in November.