Longer online version; see re-sub-edited PDF

New NUJ guidance on working with security officers

Cover of Guidelines for Engagement Between Private Security Officers and Journalists

WE RECOMMEND you take the time to read Guidelines for Engagement Between Private Security Officers and Journalists, recently published jointly by the NUJ and the international Professional Security Association (IPSA). At a very manageable 12 pages, it's well worth downloading this PDF document onto to your phone to have ready to show to security officers if needed while you're out and about on assignment.

The guide can be downloaded here.

It covers the sort of "circumstances of public interest" in which journalists and security guards will come into contact with each other - such as crime scenes and demonstrations. It goes into the legality of "camera bans" and makes it clear that seizure or confiscation of any journalist's equipment is a criminal offence.

The Guidelines document is aimed at both journalists and Private Security Officers (PSOs). It points out that "it is important that PSOs facilitate journalists to carry out their work, even when the circumstances are difficult" and also that "there is no requirement for a journalist to explain for whom they are working, nor whether they are freelance or staff." It reveals also that PSOs can often be self-employed themselves, particularly those working at night in roles such as Door Supervisors at night-time economy venues.

The document provides an introduction to the rules of engagement and chains of command that PSOs operate under. It explains the sort of training that some PSOs will have received, and the roles for which trained personnel need "licence-linked qualifications".

One of the aims of the guide is to find "practical ways to resolve disputes in a mutually respectful way". For example, a journalist should give a PSO time and space to contact their supervisor if they feel their instructions are in conflict with granting a journalist access.

Particularly useful are the illustrations showing what a UK Press Card looks like - in both its English and Welsh-language versions, with examples of the Press Cards issued by many of the other gatekeepers to the Press Card Authority scheme as well as the NUJ. The guide points out that PSOs may also encounter foreign journalists who have an IFJ International Press Card.

The guide also includes samples of the ID cards, issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) regulator, that some PSO will carry or wear. It explains the procedures that PSOs can use to verify a Press Card through its PIN number, and the QR code on the SIA card that links to identifying data.

PSOs use QR codes a lot in their work. They may also use the IPSA app - for example using its Incident Reporting function when they feel their instructions are bringing them into conflict with journalists seeking access. The guide includes QR codes that link to the NUJ's Code of Conduct, IPSA's Ethical Code of Conduct and Metropolitan Police advice on photography.

Natasha Hirst - the NUJ Vice-President, Chair of the NUJ's Photographers' Council and part of the NUJ team that co-wrote the guide with IPSA - welcomes its publication. She notes that while "there is no legal requirement for PSOs to receive training on engaging with journalists," their association collaborated with the NUJ to produce this guide for its members anyway. She added that the NUJ "will continue to work with IPSA to develop further training for PSOs, and take forward constructive conversations to employers and contractors responsible for instructing PSOs at work.".