Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Stop flirting with the media police are told

One of the fallouts of the events over the summer over Murdochgate was the questioning of the relationship between the police and the media.

Today comes a report The Ethical Issues Arising From The Relationship Between Police And Media which has recommended that The Metropolitan Police Service has to rethink its attitude to relations with journalists and be more open about dealing with the press.

The report by Elizabeth Filkin, the former head of investigations into wrongdoing in Parliament suggested that the police should avoid drinking with reporters, make a record of all conversations and beware of potential “flirting” by journalists seeking unauthorized information.

"The close relationship which developed between parts of the MPS and the media has caused serious harm,” Filkin said in the report. “What goes on at the top affects the whole organization.”

The report was commissioned in July, after revelations that News of the World reporters had hacked into the voice mail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002, when she was still missing.

Speaking at the press conference in London where the report was published Filkin said that “A free press is essential to a democracy as it can provide scrutiny of public institutions, such as the MPS, and is essential in providing information about what the police do." adding that “It is critical for policing legitimacy that the MPS are as open and transparent as they can be and the media plays an important part in this. On occasions the MPS has not been open enough in providing the right information to the public.”

 Flirting is “often interlinked with alcohol” and is “designed to get you to drop your defenses and say far more than you intended. Be careful,” Filkin said in the report. She didn’t suggest an outright ban on alcohol with reporters. Alcohol, she said, can involve “late-night carousing, long sessions, yet another bottle of wine at lunch -- these are all long-standing media tactics to get you to spill the beans.”

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