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Ministers vow to make journalists safer as new body meets for first time

John WhittingdaleA new ministerial body aimed at giving greater protection to journalists will meet for the first time today.

The National Committee For The Safety of Journalists will bring together representatives from government, journalism, policing, prosecution services and the civil service to work in collaboration to make sure journalists are free from threats and violence.

Minister for Media and Data John Whittingdale and Minister for Safeguarding Victoria Atkins will today co-chair the committee, which will meet twice a year.

Its first task will be to develop a National Action Plan which sets out a framework “through which the safety of journalists can be ensured and they can be protected from physical harm and threats of violence”.

Mr Whittingdale, pictured, said: “The UK has been at the forefront of the global campaign for media freedom but it is also essential that we protect the safety of journalists at home.

“The rise in misinformation during the pandemic has highlighted once again the valuable role played by journalists working for reputable news organisations who produce accurate and balanced high-quality journalism.

“We must do all we can to ensure that they can carry this out free from threats and intimidation.”

Representatives from police services across the UK, the press, including the National Union of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the Society of Editors have been invited to join as members of the committee.

Individual journalists may also be asked to attend on an ad hoc basis to share their experiences.

The Society of Editors is pleased to be able to support and play a role in the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists.

Ian said: “Journalism is not a crime nor is it at odds with society. Indeed it plays an important role in keeping society free, and yet increasingly we see journalists targeted for violence and abuse.

“This committee’s role in pinpointing action to combat this is both welcome and of vital importance.”