I am a member of the press, what can I expect from the police?

Members of the media have a duty to report on incidents and do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places.

Police have no power or moral responsibility to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel. It is a matter for journalists and their editors to control what is published or broadcast, not the police. Once images are recorded we have no power to delete them or confiscate any equipment without a court order even if we think they contain damaging or useful evidence.

Creating vantage points

The police will actively help the media carry out their responsibilities provided they don’t interfere with ours. When areas are cordoned off following an incident, creating a vantage point where members of the media at the scene can see police activity can help them do their job without interfering with a police operation. Providing a vantage point does not prevent media still reporting from areas accessible to the general public.

Access to incident scenes

The Senior Investigating Officer is in charge of granting members of the media access to incident scenes. In the early stages of investigation evidence gathering and forensic retrieval take priority over media access, but, where appropriate, access should be allowed as is practicable.

Identifying the media

Genuine members of the media will usually carry identification, for instance the UK Press Card, which they will present on request.

Many amateur or “citizen journalists” now carry out a legitimate news gathering role and are unlikely to have special identification. Such news gatherers have the same rights and freedoms as the professional media.

The press and the public

If someone distressed or bereaved asks the police to stop the media recording them, the request can be passed on to the media, but not enforced.

Media on private property

To accompany the police onto private property the media must first obtain permission, which must be recorded, from the owner or controller of the property.

We cannot give or deny permission to members of the media to enter private premises whether they are involved in police operations or not. This is a matter between the owner or controller of the premises and the media.

If the media are trespassing on private property the owner or controller of the premises may eject them and ask for police assistance in preventing a breach of the peace while they do so.


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