NUJ delegation meets with the Metropolitan Police

  • 13 May 2022

The union has welcomed engagement on how police and journalists interact at public order events.

On 11 May, an NUJ delegation including journalists and photographers visited the Metropolitan Police specialist training centre in Gravesend. Members witnessed police offers undertaking public order training, and engaged in discussion on how best journalists and officers can work together at large scale events. Both sides agreed the need for good communication was key.

The centre delivers annual practical public order training for 4,000 officers who routinely work at demonstrations and protests. Trainees equipped with shields, helmets, fire-retardant uniforms, and stab vests are pelted with abuse, missiles, and petrol bombs, as instructors shout orders and monitor reactions. 

During the visit, NUJ members were assured that all Metropolitan Police officers receive written direction about working with journalists and the media, ahead of public order events. This includes guidance recognising the important role of professional newsgatherers, and action to ensure reporting is permitted. 

David Ayrton, NUJ senior organiser, said:

“The NUJ has put a lot of work into building our relationship with the Met in recent years. This was a useful opportunity to better understand their operations. The Gravesend training centre is an extraordinary facility and gives a real sense of the challenges that public-order officers face and the way that they train. It is also a reassurance to know that even when facing volleys of petrol bombs, the need to facilitate the media’s important role is not too far from their minds.”

Hazel Dunlop,photographer, said : 

“I’ve been in some challenging public order situations and have mixed experiences of how the Police deal with the media. Watching these simulations made me realise just how terrifying these situations must be for the Police.

"It is reassuring too to know that the chances of my press card being recognised and respected should be a bit better in light of the reassurances that were given today by police officers of the Met.”

NUJ delegation:

  • Tim Dawson, Freelance Industrial Council chairperson and NEC member
  • Hazel Dunlop, photographer 
  • Andy Aitchison, member of the NUJ Photographers’ Council
  • Tom Symonds, BBC Home Affairs correspondent
  • David Ayrton, NUJ senior organiser

© Tim Dawson


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