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NMA calls for more openness as police publish new media guidelines

Industry leaders have called for further openness from police after the College of Policing unveiled its latest press relations guidance.

The News Media Association says it is concerned over what it calls the “deterioration” in relations between journalists and police officers.

The organisation has highlighted certain sections of the guidelines, which continue to state that the police will not name those arrested “save in exceptional circumstances”, and that identities of people dealt with by way of cautions, speeding fines or other fixed penalties should not be released or confirmed.

The NMA, which represents national and regional publishers, has also expressed concern a section from a previous edition of the guidance, issued in 2010, on establishing consent to the release of information on victims and witnesses has been “jettisoned”.

police tape

Draft guidelines issued last year were criticised by the Society of Editors for containing a long list of scenarios in which officers should seek the aid of their press offices before speaking directly to the media.

However, this list appears to have been removed from the new guidance.

Ian Murray, deputy executive of the Society of Editors, said: “The Society, alongside the News Media Association, has been heavily involved in providing constructive input during the process of updating the media relations guidance and we are pleased that many of our suggestions for how to strengthen the guidance to promote a successful working relationship with the media have been included.

“The guidance reinforces the vital role the media plays in keeping communities informed and recognises the need for openness and transparency which is essential to maintaining and enhancing a positive relationship between the policing profession and the community.

“On behalf of its members, the Society will continue to maintain ongoing dialogue with the College of Policing to promote openness and transparency.

“The recently established police and media forum facilitated by the Society and the National Police Chiefs’ Council will next take place on 20 June and will provide ongoing opportunities to monitor and discuss any issues as they arise.”