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Journalists urged to resist turning footage into evidence

12 August 2011

Politicians calls for news-gathered images and video of the riots and social unrest across England over the last week to be used as police evidence. The NUJ has condemned the call and urged journalists to ensure that the police use the proper procedures if they wish to see material, which hasn't been broadcast, of the events surrounding.

The union has called on all media organisations to make strong representations to the court to protect the confidentiality of Journalistic Material and Special Procedure Material under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and under the European Convention on Human Rights.

There are special protections for journalistic material and procedures that the police should follow and the NUJ said that it will seek to defend the confidentiality of journalist's material and sources.

"The NUJ has a long and proud record in fighting to protect journalists faced with actions over sources or journalistic material. It is important we do not allow the police to use journalists as information gatherers for their purposes. Such a move places all journalists at greater risk when covering public order issues and stops sources coming forward. The NUJ stance has been confirmed in various cases before the UK and European courts.
"Journalists have been attacked during the civil unrest and the union believes that attempts to compel journalists to provide evidence to the police will put our members at risk.
"Covering protests, both nationally and internationally, is already difficult and often dangerous for journalists. The danger increases if the images and video gathered whilst reporting events is used by the state. With many accounts of injuries and equipment damage already reported, the calls from politicians to hand-over press material will only increases the risks."

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Tags: , riot, press freedom, protection of sources, footage, production order, pace, photographers, broadcasting, police, civil unrest, european convention on human rights, journalists injured