National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Protest Operational Advice Document. Version 3.3 (April 2022)

Over two and a half years since it completed a public consultation, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) finally, in April, published the first full version of its new guidance on the policing of demonstrations and public assemblies. This has emerged only because of a Freedom of Information request.

https://netpol.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/NPCC-Protest-Operational-Advice-Version-3.3-final-April-2022.pdf

This quote from Page 32   is quite encouraging [mostly]:

Journalists and Legal Observers

The media has a crucial role in providing information on the authorities’ handling of public protest and the containment of disorder. The police should ensure that they do not interfere unnecessarily with journalists doing their work, even if inadvertently.

In Pentikäinen v Finland a journalist was arrested following his refusal to comply with lawful and reasonable orders given by police during a protest. The ECtHR found that the importance of the “watchdog” role of the media meant that any attempt to remove journalists from the scene of a public protest must be subject to strict scrutiny.

However, on the facts, his arrest did amount to a breach of his Article 10 rights. The police had not sought to prevent him from reporting from the scene of the protest, and he was arrested only because he had failed to comply with police orders, rather than because of his status as a journalist. His status as a journalist did not exempt him from his obligation to comply with the order.

Although journalists attending at the scene of a protest do not have any specific legal status or immunity, once a person has been identified as a journalist, in many cases it will be unnecessary to impose the same conditions /restrictions on them as on protestors, such as allowing movement through cordons where it is safe to do so. Any unnecessary restrictions placed on a person who is identifiable as a journalist will interfere in their Article 10 rights.”

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