Reporting, the Enemy

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British police chiefs are ordering their officers to disclose whether they associate with any reporters, the same way they would with convicted criminals, a measure that has sparked criticism from journalist organizations in the country, the Guardian reported.

The measure follows guidance from the College of Policing, which sets the standards in law enforcement. The issue only came to light by accident.

Some forces have already implemented this measure, which is part of an effort to fight corruption. It comes as the policing inspectorate is urging the Metropolitan police – the nation’s largest police force – to bring in the measure.

But many journalism advocates and organizations criticized the measure, describing it as more typical of “authoritarian regimes around the world rather than advanced democracies.”

There is concern that the order may discourage officers wanting to whistleblow, or who don’t trust their bosses to act on complaints of wrongdoing.

Ruth Smeeth of Index on Censorship cautioned that the measure risks portraying journalists
“as unsavory or potentially disreputable individuals for officers to associate with.”

Within policing, some senior figures were surprised at the measure and privately oppose it.

The College of Policing maintained that the guidance is under review and stressed that it “should not impede healthy relationships between the police and the media.”

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