Stop treat­ing jour­nal­ists like crim­i­nals, Met chief tells po­lice

Daily Mail - - News - By Chris Green­wood Chief Crime Cor­re­spon­dent

PO­LICE must be open and trans­par­ent with the pub­lic and stop treat­ing jour­nal­ists like crim­i­nals, Bri­tain’s top po­lice of­fi­cer said yes­ter­day.

Cres­sida dick wants to ‘re­set’ the re­la­tion­ship with the me­dia to help catch crim­i­nals, gal­vanise pub­lic sup­port and en­able greater scru­tiny of the force.

The Scot­land Yard boss said the Press play a ‘vi­tal’ role in so­ci­ety – of­ten pur­su­ing the same goals as po­lice – and many crim­i­nals are be­hind bars thanks to its work.

But she warned that dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions lie ahead as forces strug­gle to bal­ance the books amid ris­ing crime and the on­go­ing ter­ror­ist threat.

Speak­ing at the So­ci­ety of ed­i­tors’ an­nual con­fer­ence, Miss dick said it is not ac­cept­able for of­fi­cers to be forced to de­clare links to jour­nal­ists as they must do with crim­i­nals.

in­stead she said of­fi­cers and jour­nal­ists must both en­sure they al­ways act with in­tegrity.

‘We need the pub­lic’s sup­port and help to put bad peo­ple be­hind bars,’ she said.

‘Jour­nal­ists and po­lice of­fi­cers are of­ten work­ing to­wards the same goals.

‘Both want to in­ves­ti­gate those in­tent on harm, both want to ex­pose what that harm is, bring it to an end and ex­pose those re­spon­si­ble.

‘Both jour­nal­ists and of­fi­cers want to work for those who on their own would be pow­er­less and vul­ner­a­ble. Both want to get to the truth.’

her com­ments sig­nal an end to years of mis­trust sparked by the phone hack­ing scan­dal and sub­se­quent leve­son in­quiry into me­dia stan­dards.

dozens of jour­nal­ists and pub­lic of­fi­cials were ar­rested amid al­le­ga­tions of bribery, cor­rup­tion and gross in­tru­sion into pri­vate lives.

The fall-out left a gen­er­a­tion of po­lice chiefs re­luc­tant to speak to the me­dia as re­la­tions en­tered a ‘deep freeze’ amid mu­tual dis­trust. Miss dick’s pre­de­ces­sor, Sir Bernard, now lord ho­gan-howe, strug­gled to escape the charge that his vig­or­ous pur­suit of jour­nal­ists was dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the claims they faced.

ad­dress­ing an au­di­ence of se­nior jour­nal­ists in Cam­bridge, Miss dick high­lighted the im­por­tant role jour­nal­ism plays in so­ci­ety. She said ap­peals through tra­di­tional and so­cial me­dia, com­bined with ‘good old- fash­ioned de­tec­tive work’, have brought many crim­i­nals to jus­tice.

‘ev­ery day we see crimes solved be­cause of the me­dia at­ten­tion – that is one rea­son why our re­la­tion­ship is so im­por­tant,’ she said.

Miss dick said be­ing ‘hon­est with the pub­lic’ may lead to ‘crit­i­cal head­lines and an­gry columnists’ but pledged not to ‘prom­ise some­thing that won’t be de­liv­ered’.

‘let us be clear, com­pared to most, i sus­pect nearly all of the world, UK po­lice are ex­tremely ac­count­able, scru­ti­nised and trans­par­ent.

‘how­ever that does not give us an ex­cuse to say “don’t chal­lenge us”. as a ci­ti­zen, i don’t want to see me­dia free- dom curbed – if we are get­ting the bal­ance wrong we should be held to ac­count.’

ad­dress­ing the bribery scan­dal, known as Op­er­a­tion elve­den, Miss dick said she ‘will not apol­o­gise’ for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. She de­scribed lock­ing up cor­rupt po­lice of­fi­cers and other pub­lic of­fi­cials who il­lic­itly sold in­for­ma­tion as a ‘good re­sult’. She urged that ‘we move on’ from the anger caused over jour­nal­ists who were charged and then cleared.

Miss dick said po­lice of­fi­cers should not be re­quired to dis­close a re­la­tion­ship with a jour­nal­ist in the same way as a crim­i­nal or some­one on bail.

‘how­ever a re­la­tion­ship with a jour­nal­ist should not be cat­e­gorised in the same way as a re­la­tion­ship with a crim­i­nal,’ she said. ‘That sends out the wrong mes­sage to every­one and de­stroys con­fi­dence.’

‘We have the same goals’

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