The Adapting to Protest report was released today and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) has come to some interesting conclusions.
In the report, the HMIC said that journalists and broadcasters, who they spoke to in focus groups, said even though the police were forthcoming with information prior to the event it was generally felt that having a spokesperson available some three miles from the scene was not helpful and that there could have been a more proactive police engagement on the ground.
The report went on to say: “It was considered that the police grew more and more unresponsive as negative reports increased and it was commented that the MPS withdrew into a “bunker.” This resulted in a “vacuum of information” and made the media even more reliant on the ‘blog culture’ of protesters and the public to gather updated information on unfolding events.”
Journalists also suggested ideas on how to improve the relationship with police in a way that would still allow them to obtain information: “Journalists suggested that opportunities to interview front line officers to obtain real time commentaries would clarify the policing perspective and assist public understanding of events. A suggestion was also made that there may be the potential to embed individuals with police units and commanders as is done with the military.”
The HMIC also suggests that some front line officers failed to recognise the Press Card.
“Observations were made on the inability to move freely in and out of cordons, with some front line officers failing to recognise the Press Card. Experiences on this matter varied, but journalists were unanimous in the belief that persistence was required due to an inconsistent application of this policy across cordons.”
Journalists and photographers were not the only ones left unhappy as the report says police commanders were frustrated about the media coverage of the challenge the police faced on the 1st and 2nd April.
The report recommends that the police should develop a strategy to improve relationships with the media.