DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Why police must build bridges with the Press

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Why police must build bridges with the Press

The relationship between the police and Press has never been entirely smooth.

In their crucial role of holding the powerful to account, journalists have exposed many incidences of police corruption and inadequacy.

Understandably perhaps, their efforts haven’t always been appreciated within the service. But for every negative story there have been many positive ones.

Through the mainstream media, the police can communicate directly with the people they serve – keeping them informed, appealing for clues, warning of danger.

In recent years, however, many chief officers have forgotten the importance of this mutually beneficial relationship.

Nicola Bulley vanished while walking spaniel Willow along a riverside path on January 27, sparking a massive search. Her body was finally found in the water more than three weeks later

A review into her death found that a senior officer misdirected reporters at the outset of the investigation. Pictured: Chief Constable, Andy Marsh (left) and police and crime commissioner for Lancashire, Andrew Snowden at a press conference on Tuesday

The phone-hacking scandal and deeply flawed Leveson Inquiry were used by many forces as an excuse for freezing out the media and retreating into a bunker of secrecy.

Former Met commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe went even further with dawn raids on dozens of tabloid reporters over allegations of bribery – none of which ultimately stood up in court.

This broke a vital symbiotic association. Yesterday, some of the chickens from that breach came home to roost.

A College of Policing review of Lancashire Constabulary’s handling of the Nicola Bulley case found that a failure to brief accredited journalists about her disappearance led to a dangerous vacuum, which was filled by conspiracy theorists on social media.

To make things worse, the police released private details of the victim’s struggles with alcohol and mental health to quash claims of foul play and distract attention from their failure to find her. This was, said the College, ‘avoidable and unnecessary’.

The report said Lancashire police should have given non-reportable background information to the media ‘to shape responsible reporting’ and avoid wild and hurtful speculation.

On a broader level, it declared that the ‘fractured’ relationship between police and accredited journalists must be rebuilt. This is a hugely important conclusion which chief constables must take on board.

Public confidence in the police is at an all-time low. If they want to restore it, they must embrace the mainstream media rather than treat it as the enemy.

Lord Justice Leveson with the Report from the Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press in 2012

Finger-wagging fools

The increasingly asinine UN is once again wagging its finger at Britain, this time over the stiff jail sentences imposed on two Just Stop Oil protesters who caused traffic mayhem.

‘Special rapporteur’ Ian Fry says the eco-activists’ incarceration violates freedom of speech. What planet is he on?

These narcissists deliberately inconvenienced as many people as possible – including a pregnant woman needing urgent care – by blocking the M25 for two days.

Convicted of causing a public nuisance, they are hardly political prisoners.

If the UN is so agitated about people being unjustly jailed for their political beliefs, perhaps it should instead turn its attention to Iran, one of the world’s worst tyrannies.

But that would be very awkward. Despite oppressing dissidents, that country has inexplicably been appointed the next chair of a human rights forum… by the UN.

Before pontificating on Britain’s supposed flaws, shouldn’t this discredited organisation look hard in the mirror?

After the Brexit vote, Remainers scorned the idea the UK would forge any meaningful trade deals with the rest of the world. Look how that’s worked out. 

We now have agreements with more than 100 countries and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch is launching talks to deepen our pact with booming South Korea. 

To pave the way, Korean businesses are investing £21billion in cutting-edge projects. 

This is a huge vote of confidence – and shows the wisdom of exploiting the advantages of leaving the EU.

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