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Lancs force backs down on ‘police press card’

The NUJ has protested to Lancashire Constabulary about its treatment of journalists covering the EDL protest in Blackburn on Saturday 2 April.

The police issued their own "press passes" and denied access to those journalists who were not carrying one.

After representations made by NUJ President Peter Murray, the police eventually backed down.

This is the second instance of a police force issuing its own press passes in relation to an EDL demonstration, following similar moves by Leicestershire police last October.

Freelance Organiser John Toner has written to the Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary to express astonishment at the force's actions. Said Toner: "We have worked hard for many years to protect and promote recognition of the UK Press Card, which is recognised by ACPO. The Press Card contains a photograph, a hologram, is laminated and carries a verification phone number.

"We are constantly improving the integrity of the card and a RFID chip is being phased in. Lancashire Police's 'press pass' had no security features and was simply a photocopy. The one I saw had one journalist's name and organisation crossed out, and another's written in biro. It would not have looked out of place in the studio of a well-known children's TV brand, next to some sticky-backed plastic.

"We need to convince the police that the UK Press Card should be sufficient identification for any working journalist."

Toner has written asking for a meeting, and the UK Press Card Authority is to take up the matter, too.

17 April

Force sees sense

Lancashire Constabulary has agreed not to issue its own press passes in future.

The assurance comes in response to a letter from the NUJ protesting the use of local press passes in Blackburn during the English Defence League demonstration on Saturday 2 April.

NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner wrote to the force immediately, (see above) expressing his astonishment that journalists had been denied access without the police pass.

In response, Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke has written: "I would like to reassure you and your members that we will not be issuing a press pass again for this sort of event, but that we will be asking for recognised accreditation into controlled zones or areas."

Said Toner: "This is a welcome response, and I have replied with copies of our leaflets explaining the merits of the UK Press Card.

"I have also asked the UK Press Card Authority to seek a meeting with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) who officially recognise the Press Card.

"We need to ensure that all police forces recognise the Press Card and provide access to bearers of the cards."

Last modified: 17 Apr 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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