NUJ to publish protocol with private security workers

  • 14 May 2021

The union is working with the International Professional Security Association (IPSA) to launch guidance and a campaign to increase understanding between journalists and private security officers.

A blog by IPSA said: “More and more the private security sector is taking on work that was once performed by the police. However, they do not have the same legal rights or media training as the police. IPSA hope to change all that.”

Journalists and photographers are more commonly coming into contact with security officers during their work and, particularly during pandemic conditions, there were misunderstandings about the rights of the press working on the streets and public places.

The NUJ has worked with the police, for example making a video explaining photographers rights while covering demonstrations. The NUJ also brokered guidance for police and the press on working during the pandemic with the National Police Chiefs' Council.

In the blog, Simon Pears, chair of IPSA, admitted that there had been a “lack of understanding of the legal rights of the media from the security teams and this can lead to confrontation and friction”.

David Ayrton, NUJ senior organiser, freelance and digital said:

“We welcome the partnership with IPSA which will build mutual understanding and trust to progress us towards the goal of educating our members and facilitate constructive working relationships between journalists and security officers.”

Natasha Hirst, chair NUJ Photographers’ Council, said:

“The NUJ has been seeking to develop a working relationship with the security industry for a long time and we are delighted to be organising a joint campaign with IPSA. There is much confusion and misunderstanding between journalists and security officers regarding each other’s role and remit which can result in tensions on the ground. The development of new guidance and training offers a great opportunity to support IPSA and NUJ members to liaise effectively as they go about their work.”

Simon Pears described the talks between the two organisations as “the start of a journey that will help foster good relationships and best practice”.  He said:

“The media is considered to be the eyes and ears of the public. It is the media’s role to report on matters of public interest. The guide has been designed to help the media to understand and interact with private security officers when they have the occasion to meet and at the scene of an incident.”

The guidance is still in development. If members have examples of challenges or positive experiences involving security officers, please email David Ayrton to help inform the union the content of the guidance.

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