Police in Bristol must respect media's right to report

  • 29 Mar 2021

The union has expressed concern at the behaviour of some police officers towards the media covering recent protests in Bristol.

NUJ organiser David Ayrton and Bristol branch chair Paul Breeden are co-ordinating the union's response to the unacceptable treatment of professional journalists covering local public demonstrations.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said the actions of some police officers marked "an unwelcome departure from the standard of policing which has characterised similar public demonstrations and gatherings in other parts of the UK." He added:

"The NUJ is seeking meetings with the police to discuss the departure from acceptable standards of policing. Accredited media must be free to work without intimidation from any source.
"We recognise that there has been a tense atmosphere at some gatherings but hostility towards reporters and photographers engaged in public interest journalism cannot be tolerated.
"Media workers have experienced abuse from groups determined to prevent journalists from doing their job. It is vital that those charged with protecting journalists respect the right of the media to record public events. Intimidation is not acceptable from any quarter. The NUJ will be raising our concerns at local and national level. The Avon and Somerset police are obliged to adhere to the same guidelines as colleagues policing public demonstrations throughout the country."

Paul Breeden, NUJ Bristol branch chair, said:

"Bristol has become the 'Kill the Bill' frontline and journalists are just trying to do their job. The union locally has been working hard to get Avon and Somerset police to recognise the right for journalists to work unhindered at public order events. The attacks on and attempts to arrest journalists are unacceptable and should not be repeated at the forthcoming protests."

All NUJ members are encouraged to carry a copy of the NPCC guidance along with their NUJ UK press card.

Any member experiencing difficulties in the course of their work should contact the union.

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