Talks aimed at easing relations between press photographers, journalists and the police have today been hailed as ?constructive? by the Home Office.
Last week, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary Jeremy Dear told Home Office minister Vernon Coaker that police have used their powers to restrict photography in public places ‘inappropriately’.
The concern was one of several regarding ?media freedom? raised by the NUJ in a meeting Dear arranged with the minister.
Speaking today, a Home Office spokeswoman told Amateur Photographer: ?We welcome the constructive approach taken by the NUJ and the increased co-operation agreed by the Metropolitan Police to develop clearer working relationships between the police and the NUJ and their members.?
The NUJ?s concerns include ?obstruction of journalists in their work – in contravention of guidelines already agreed between news organisations and the authorities – as well as the routine surveillance of journalists by the police?.
Last year police forces nationwide were issued with guidelines intended to govern their treatment of photojournalists.
This followed what photographers described as ‘worsening relations’ between the police and the press, particularly after the terrorist attacks on London on 7 July 2005.
In a statement issued after its meeting with the Government on 28 October, the NUJ said: ?The meeting included recognition that there had been inappropriate uses of the police?s power to restrict photography in public places and that more could be done to ensure that police officers are aware of the existing guidelines.
?The government has now offered to work with the union to find ways in which those guidelines can be more effectively implemented.?
Dear welcome the move but added: ?The proof will be in the coming weeks and months when we see whether the experiences of our members in dealing with the police improve and whether they are able to work free from harassment and intimidation.?
He added that the Government has also agreed to investigate whether guidance can be produced to make it clear where the balance falls in relation to a ?journalist?s right to protect their sources?.
Last week Amateur Photographer exclusively revealed details of the contents of guidance due to be issued to police forces this month concerning the Terrorism Act 2000.
Terrorism Act 2000: Police guidance revised October 2008
Police guidelines rolled out nationwide April 2007