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Leicestershire police u-turn on journalists badge scheme

1 February 2012

Leicestershire Police today withdrew the badge scheme for journalists attending the demonstration on Saturday, after successful NUJ protests.

The union protested at the local police force's decision to operate a badge scheme for journalists covering the English Defence League demonstration in Leicester on Saturday.

Following strong representations from NUJ members, the police have now decided to withdraw the scheme and in a statement said:

"In light of the numerous emails I have received from the NUJ and affiliated bodies, we shall not be repeating the scheme."

John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser said:

"The NUJ is pleased the police have withdrawn the scheme as the UK Press Card should be sufficient identification for any working journalist."

The police said the purpose of the badge was to allow officers to identify and support journalists. In a letter to the NUJ, they said:

"It will have no bearing on their ability to report on proceedings or access to police officers, protestors or the march routes."

In response, John Toner wrote to the force to say:

"Despite the assurances you give, there is suspicion that the police will use their own badge to decide who may or may not report on the protests. If the purpose of the badge scheme is to allow identification of journalists on a voluntary basis, this would be easily achieved by asking journalists to display their Press Card on a voluntary basis."
"Leicestershire Police used such a scheme in October 2010. We learned about it at very short notice and we protested then. We are dismayed to be told they intend to adopt these measures again.
"Our position is supported by the UK Press Card Authority and other organisations representing journalists. We are unanimous in our view: there is a nationally recognised UK Press Card and there is no need for Leicestershire or any other police force to introduce badges of their own devising.
"The true badge of a professional journalist is the UK Press Card."

Tags: , press freedom, police, leicestershire, demonstration, press cards