Thursday, 22 September 2011

Police force broadcasters to hand over riot film

The BBC, ITN and Sky News have handed over hundreds of hours of unbroadcast footage of the August riots to police after being served with court orders by Scotland Yard, the Guardian reports today.

It says: "The broadcasters were forced to hand over raw footage of the riots after the Metropolitan police obtained a production order earlier this month under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

"The Daily Telegraph is also understood to have disclosed material to the police after being served with a production order. Scotland Yard has put sustained pressure on all media groups to reveal video and picture evidence of the riots since the disorder across England seven weeks ago."

The NUJ, and press freedom groups the Committe to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have all condemned the move to ask for the unbroadcast riot film.

RWB said it took "a very dim view" of Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion that TV broadcasters have a duty to hand over unused footage of the rioting to the police as "this would turn them into police auxiliaries and seriously endanger their independence".

Index on Censorship says it is is concerned by the reports that news organisations are to hand over footage of August’s riots in England.

“Moves such as this force journalists to become the eyes and ears of the state, said John Kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship. “During the riots, we saw several incidents of photographers and broadcasters being attacked. The implication that any footage taken by them will be handed over to authorities will only serve to endanger on-the-ground media workers further in the future.”

“Already this week we have seen widespread outrage at attempts to make Guardian journalist Amelia Hill hand over journalistic materials. The Metropolitan Police Service is showing a worrying disregard for the principle of a free media.”

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