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Giving evidence to the police puts journalists in danger

23 September 2011

The NUJ has condemned the courts for forcing media organisations to supply riot footage and photographs to the police. The union has expressed disappointment that leading broadcasters and at least one national newspaper have done so. The NUJ continues to call on media organisations to challenge the court orders.

The NUJ code of conduct contains the following principle: "Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work."

The NUJ is appalled that riot footage has been given to the police and the NUJ strongly believes that such a move places all journalists at greater risk when covering public order or other related stories.

We believe the police requests are unnecessary because they used surveillance teams during the riots and spend public money gathering their own intelligence which should provide enough material without compromising journalists.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Journalists played a critical role in informing the public about the riots in August and our members were attacked whilst doing their jobs during the civil unrest. Covering protests is already difficult and the danger increases if the footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police."

Jason N. Parkinson, NUJ London Photographers' Branch secretary, said:

"By handing over footage, these media organisations have turned every photographer, videographer and journalist into potential targets and this will only lead to an increase in the number of assaults on the press while covering events."

Tags: , police, protection of sources, production order, riot, photographers, videographers, journalists injured, newspapers, broadcasting